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Life Story / Obituary
Robert “Bob” Norberg was born in Pontiac, Michigan on November 21, 1927. He was the fourth of five sons born to Carl and Dorothy Norberg. Bob and his brothers were raised in a home filled with an enduring faith in Jesus Christ, a strong work ethic, and a deep love for family. Throughout his life Bob's brothers would remain some of his closest friends. He was proud of the fact that they had never had a disagreement.
Bob, or "Bobby” as he was fondly known by his friends, began working in his early teens; the local paint shop, taking lunch money at the school cafeteria, and stocking shelves at the local grocer. He enjoyed working. Being able to pay for things he needed or wanted was a great help to his family.
Bob joined the Dusenberry School of Music and Dance at the age of 12. It is there that he learned to play the drums. In the summers, the music school would take their students to state fairs across the southern part of Michigan to perform. During this time, Bob met a dancing student named Barbara. Bob recalled, “She was just fun to be around.” Their friendship grew the year Barbara, a year younger, entered high school. When a new dance club was formed, Barbara asked her friend Bob to join her. He remembered, "Things changed the first time I put my arm around her waist." On December 19, 1945, they began what would be a 72-year marriage.
At the age of 17 Bob asked his dad to sign papers for him to enlist in the army. His dad told him that he and his mother would support his decision, but asked that he wait until he graduated from high school. Out of respect for his parents, he agreed. Bob graduated high school, enlisted, soon married Barbara, and left in January, 1946 to serve in the Merchant Marines. He served a short stint in the Merchant Marines and after returning home, Bob was drafted into the Army.
In 1947, upon coming home from the Army, Bob purchased a local church that was going to be torn down. With the help of his father, brothers, and many other family members, the church was disassembled and taken to a small lot just down the street from his parents and within a few blocks of his brothers. There, with the help of those same people, Bob and Barbara used this lumber to build their first home. Between the years of 1950 and 1967 they lovingly raised 4 children in that home.
The holidays were filled with fun family gatherings and the summers were spent camping with the extended family. With travel trailers in tow, the Norberg brothers, sisters-in-law, and cousins enjoyed the time they spent together as they visited parks throughout Michigan. When it began to be hard to find the perfect spot to camp together, the brothers decided to purchase a place of their own. It was a little piece of heaven where they went to get away. For Bob, it was a place for him and his brothers to work together; repairing things, building out-buildings, adding running water. One of the first projects was turning a small fishing hole into a swimming hole for the kids. The water was drained, plastic sheeting was laid, sand was brought in, and the water was turned back on. It was awesome for the kids! For Bob, it was just another moment spent “building” with some of the people he respected the most.
Bob would ultimately find his life’s work as a Senior Vice President for Pontiac State Bank. He enjoyed and knew his community well. He felt he had the best team of people working not for him, but with him, and he cared for each one of them. He was proud of his team and the things they had accomplished together. Bob was a man of integrity, honesty, and fairness. He worked hard not only for his employer, but those he led and the customers who came into his office. He admired and promoted people who worked hard, always trying to find the best in everyone.
Work was important to Bob, but it never came before his family. Both Bob and Barbara were proud of their children and grandchildren; they enjoyed hearing about every accomplishment and milestone. Bob was the go-to person when the kids needed an opinion on a financial, mechanical, carpentry, or home purchasing issue. You could leave him with a problem and the next time he saw you he would have thought of a way to work the issue out. He always made time for his kids. The Norberg home was welcoming and inviting and the question, “What can I get you to eat?” was usually asked within the first few minutes of arrival. He loved sitting around the dining room table and just talking.
Bob and Barbara had a wonderful life together. They loved anything family, traveling in their travel trailer, evening rides and dancing. For years they belonged to the Wednesday Night Dance Club, dressing up once a month and spending time with each other out on the dance floor. It was just one of 2 dance clubs they enjoyed. Bob's love for the sound of the big bands never left him. When Barbara died in 2019 they had been married for 72 years, but they had been dance partners for 76.
Robert Norberg died in his home in Kalamazoo, Michigan on Friday, November 12, 2021 at the age of 93. He will be greatly missed. We are grateful for his love, kindness, strength, unselfishness, and his wonderful sense of humor.
Robert was preceded in death by his wife, Barbara Norberg, and his four brothers. Surviving are his children: Jim (Kathy) Norberg, George (Patricia) Norberg, Richard Norberg, and Ann (Ed) Hall; grandchildren: Jenny, Michelle, Michael, George, Curt, Markelle, Josh, Sarah, Rachel, and Philip; 14 great-grandchildren; and 1 great-great-granddaughter. Cremation has taken place. Private interment at Fort Custer National Cemetery. A family gathering will be planned for a later date.
The Norberg family would like to take this opportunity to thank Robert’s nurse, Genevieve, and home health aide, Natalie, for the wonderful care they provided. He was quick to tell both how they had brightened his day.
Please visit Robert’s personal web page at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, or sign his guestbook. Memorial contributions may be made to Kairos Dwelling.