NORMAN Norma Jean English Walker of Norman, formerly of Ada, Urbana, Illinois, and Albuquerque, New Mexico, passed away October 12.
She was born in Shawnee on July 16, 1930, to Arthur Doyle "A.D." and Alma Isabell Knapp English. She grew up in the oil fields of eastern Oklahoma and graduated from Ada High. She attended East Central College in Ada, where she met the love of her life, John Adams Walker Jr. They were married May 31, 1953.
Norma was a lifelong learner, doing graduate work at both Oklahoma State and the University of Oklahoma and earning a Ph.D. in English literature from the University of Illinois, all while successfully raising a family and volunteering in her community. She later returned to the U of I to earn a master's degree in social work.
She worked in that field in Urbana and then in Ada, where she and John returned when he became the library director at East Central. Norma then graduated with a J.D. from the OU College of Law at the age of 63.
While a mental health social worker in Ada, Norma kept detailed notes of her interaction with a client, Ronald Keith Williamson. As discussed in John Grisham's nonfiction book "The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town," those notes were later instrumental in exonerating Williamson from his wrongful conviction for a notorious rape and murder.
After being widowed in 1998, Norma moved to Albuquerque to be near her grandchildren. There she rediscovered her love of writing poetry and self-published her works. She recently returned to live in Norman.
Norma was predeceased by her parents, her husband and her brothers, Don, Paul and Bill. She is survived by her children, Dan (Kathy Tolan) of Blanco, Texas; David (Irma Flores) of Katy, Texas; Alfred (Sharon McKim) of Rio Rancho, New Mexico; and Ruth (Jill Garner) of Norman. She is also survived by four grandchildren, five step-grandchildren, a great-grandson and two step-great-grandsons.
Private graveside services will be held at Memorial Park Cemetery in Ada, followed by a public celebration of Norma's life at St. Stephen's United Methodist Church in Norman on Monday, Oct. 17, at 3 p.m.
In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the World Wildlife Fund.
Published on October 14, 2016