Norma Jean (Smith) Lotz (84) of Mahomet passed away peacefully at Gibson Area Annex on February 1, 2020. Her three daughters were at her side. She has gone to be with her husband Ed, who passed away on January 1, 2020. His 87th birthday would have been on February 3rd, so it is a comfort to know that she was with him in time to celebrate.
Norma was born on June 21, 1935 to Paul Preston and Mildred Pauline (Osmon) Smith in Cincinnati, Ohio. She married Edward Allen Lotz on June 23, 1956. Norma has one brother, Theodore Paul Smith of Davenport Fl. He survives.
Norma is also survived by their three daughters, Pamela (David) Rathke of Colfax, Sandra (Philip) Cunningham of Channahon, and Betty Jo (Dean) Smith of Manhattan; nine grandchildren, Kristin (Patrick) McWilliams of Mahomet, Brian Rathke (Denise) of Bettendorf IA, Lauren (Zach) Langhoff of Colfax, Morgan Rathke of Colfax, Daniel Cunningham (Marjorie Thomas) of Edgerton WI, Adam Cunningham of Moline, Holly Cunningham of Trivoli, Amanda (Steve) Gerzen of Joliet and Austin Smith of Manhattan; and eight great grandchildren with a ninth due this month.
Norma attended Christian College in Columbia Missouri, where she majored in Home Economics. But she made it clear that the main reason for attending Christian was to work with and ride the school’s horses. She finished her bachelor’s degree at the University of Cincinnati.
In 1969, Norma and Ed relocated their family to Mahomet where they purchased 10 acres on the edge of town. This was to fulfill her dream of having her own horses. They built a barn for the horses, beef cows, barn cats and the occasional opossum. The barn even included an indoor riding arena. Her first horse was Saraa, who was with them for more than 30 years. Norma and Ed, and their dear friends Bonnie and Tink Vaughn, shared endless stories about the adventures and mishaps of city folks learning the particulars of farm life. She named her farm Bridle Leash for the horses and the dogs that she loved, including Dawn, Penny, Bella and Molly. In 2004, their 10 acres became Bridle Leash Park, for the families of Mahomet to enjoy. Norma specifically requested that the park include a walking path so she could watch the dogs walking their people.
Norma was a 4-H leader/parent volunteer in the Mahomet area, where she taught culinary and sewing skills to young girls for over a decade. Norma and Ed were members of the Mahomet United Methodist Church.
In the 1970’s, Norma joined CenterLine Dressage, where she met her friend and Dressage partner, Gayla Sargent. She was the club’s secretary for many years, and you could see her in the basement every month, printing the newsletter. At first, she used a hectograph, but she eventually “modernized” to the mimeograph machine. Norma and Gayla trained and showed their prize-winning Arabians; Ben, Gent and Cassie. Their most successful horse was Ibn Calif (Ben) who was ranked “Top 10 in the US” in 1984 and was Canadian Reserve Grand Champion in 1985.
Private services will be held, followed by burial next to her husband in Grandview Memorial Gardens. Blair-Owens Funeral home, Mahomet IL, www.owensfuneralhomes.com, is in charge of arrangements.
If you wish to honor Norma, please consider making a donation to St Jude Children’s Research Hospital, www.stjude.org, who saved their granddaughter Morgan’s life.
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