Norma's Story

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Norma "Jo" Pyle (Albert) passed into eternal rest in her home at Sedgebrook, in Lincolnshire, Ill., on April 2, 2017. Mother, wife, sister, daughter and friend to many, Jo was born in her grandmother's house in Collison, Ill. on July 10, 1930 to Estella Barkman and Fred Albert. Jo grew up in Newman and Danville with her brother, Charles Albert and her sister, Creta Belle (Arlington). A very close family, they were frequently at the farm of their maternal grandparents, Belle and Charles Barkman. She and L. Duane Pyle met as young children in grade school in Newman. While in high school, Jo was a member of Job's Daughters, a branch of the Masonic Rites - an organization for daughters of Masons. She held all the positions of leadership up to Honored Queen in the late 1940s. She graduated from Bethel Woman's College, in Hopkinsville, Ky., (closed in 1964) with an associate's degree receiving the honor of membership into the Phi Theta Kappa honor fraternity. Then, she received a bachelor's degree in psychology and sociology from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Ind. Having studied ballet and tap dance as a teen, she became very involved in the Purdue Modern Dance program while a student and participated as an alumna in its dance concerts into the 1970s.
After Duane visited her in Danville where her family moved when she was in high school, they started dating. Married on July 17, 1954, they raised Jana, Robin, Eran and Devon in West Lafayette, Ind. where Duane received his PhD and was a founding faculty member of the Purdue University Department of Computer Sciences. They moved to Houston, Texas in 1971, where Duane assumed the chairmanship of the University of Houston Computer Science program. Jo lived in the Memorial Drive area from 1971 to 2015. Jo was very active in the Memorial Drive Presbyterian Church (MDPC) for almost 40 years. Jo served the MDPC Prime Timers senior adult group on their board and as their President. She created their newsletter and planned programs like tours, speakers and movies. Jo especially enjoyed planning the Spring Fashion Show, having had an interest in fashion since her twenties, when she had designed her own evening gowns. For many years, Jo took the flower orders for the church every week and made sure that flowers were delivered to members who were in the hospital or hospice care. Jo participated in Christian fellowship and women's ministry programs including "Just For Now" - to assist others with grief and life changes; and was also active in "Circle" and "Branches." She attended some Houston Presbyterian Cursillos and butterfly became a symbol for her and her family. In her later years in Houston, she sang in the Sanctuary Choir. In her 70s, Jo was also a member of the Houston Assembly of Delphians where she enjoyed preparing lectures for her group. Jo enjoyed painting modern naturalistic paintings that decorated her Houston home and would assist with her children's dance and drama clubs by painting set designs and creating costumes as a Drama Mama. All four of Jo's children continued to be actively involved in the arts, encouraged by her supporting their interests in theatre, dance, music, and art. Her home in Houston showed her amazing greenthumb. She would rescue plants from neighbors and bring them back to life. Her yard was an oasis of green with her azaleas stretching gracefully across the front of the house. Jo was a long-time employee of the former Foley's Federated department store at Memorial City. She loved to shop and outfit her daughters. Jo eventually worked in the business office for Foley's and enjoyed keeping track of financial matters. Jo's children left Houston as they went off to college and started their adult lives. Jana, Eran and Devon moved to the Midwest, where visiting relatives and friends from younger years was always an event and such a treat. Jo lost her beloved husband Duane in 1993, and in the late 1990s, became Eran's caregiver as he battled the diabetes which took his life early, in 2001. Jo and Duane enjoyed big band music and loved to dance together throughout their marriage. The family remembers them going to New Year's Eve celebrations dressed in formal attire. They eventually joined a square-dancing group at MDPC and Jo had great square dancer skirts to match Duane's shirts. They both enjoyed traveling and their early trips to London and Paris were commemorated by hanging pictures of their experiences in their home. They both welcomed the time of year to go swimming and loved the beach at South Padre Island each summer where they rented a condo for the whole family to stay and have beach fun through the summer. Jo also loved to go to Galveston and walk on the beach. Later they discovered the Yucatan which she greatly enjoyed and even parasailed over the ocean off Acapulco. She loved to do laps with her flippers on in swimming pools wherever they vacationed. The Pyle family farm, in Rockville, Ind., was Jo's special retreat. Her other travels involved going on retreats throughout southeastern Texas with her friends from MDPC. She took river trips through Europe enjoying Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. Then, Jo traveled on cruises to Alaska and Russia (Moscow to St. Petersburg) with Devon. After she went to Italy she talked to her children about how if she were younger, she would move there. Jo loved Italy; especially Rome and Florence, and the breathtaking Uffifi gallery. In 2015, Jo moved to Sedgebrook in Lincolnshire, Ill. (an active senior community) with her cat, Petey, to be closer to her daughters - Devon lives in Glencoe, Robin and Jana live in Indiana - and family in the Midwest. She found it hard to leave Houston after over 40 years. Once she got used to the community, she started getting involved in activities and sang in the Sedgebrook choir. In May 2016, she broke her hip, which was an easy recovery; but unfortunately, her mobility started to decline and began to make her frustrated with her situation. She started to slow down which did not help her heart and memory issues. Jo passed away with Devon caring for her in her apartment at Sedgebrook on Sunday, April 2, 2017. Norma Jo Pyle is survived by her sister, Creta Belle Arlington of Marion, Ind.; her half-sister, Alice Snyder and her sister-in-law, Alice Albert of Danville; her daughters, Jana Pyle of Rockville, Ind., Robin Pyle of Ellettsville, Ind. and Devon Pyle-Vowles with her husband Stephen Vowles of Glencoe, Ill.
A memorial gathering will be held at a later date. Funeral arrangements were held by Kelley & Spalding Funeral Home at (847) 831-4260 or www.kelleyspaldingfuneralhome.com.
Published on April 21, 2017
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