It’s time for another “Throwback Thursday”, a weekly column that takes a look back in time at some of the well-known people and places of Ottumwa. The goal of this pictorial column is to allow readers to take a walk down memory lane. Photos used will show people, places, and events from Ottumwa’s past. Readers are also invited to get involved. Please feel free to share any relevant pictures with us and you just might see it published online. Contact us through any of our social media outlets or email, just make sure to tag the pictures with #throwbackthursday or #tbt.
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This week’s installment of Throwback Thursday is personal. On Monday of this week I lost my 81-year-old grandpa, Norley Smith, to cancer. It’s the first really close family member death that I’ve dealt with during my life, and this week I’d like to use this column as a tribute to him. Luckily, when you’re the Managing Editor and the only member of the writing staff, you get to do that. Below is a collection of pictures from my grandpa’s life, but I feel they can be appreciated by any current or former Ottumwans. Perhaps you knew my grandpa, or maybe recognize someone else in the pictures or the locations in town. Hopefully, readers will enjoy this sentimental journey through the life of an Ottumwa man, and allow me to introduce you to my Grandpa Norley.
Here is the handsome man that I will always remember. He always had a smile on his face and was one of the most naturally funny people that I’ve ever experienced.
Long before he was my grandpa he was just baby Norland Vinson Smith. Here he is in 1935, three months after being born to Harold and Isabelle Smith.
May 14, 1936 he was celebrating his first birthday with his mother, Isabelle.
First day of school, 1940
Around 10-years-old with his mother, both circled, and some friends.
After seeing this childhood picture, I understand his love for old TV westerns.
He was so proud of his soapbox derby car in 1945 at 10-years-old. This is a picture that I’ve seen numerous times throughout my life as he would talk of his derby days. The Tasty Pies logo on the side was his mother’s business. A delivery service of homemade pies.
Young Grandpa, circled, hanging out with some friends.
Boy meets girl…Grandpa and Grandma. In approximately 1949, this 13-year-old girl, Shirley Jones, went downtown with 14-year-old Norley. They paid a quarter to have a picture taken together, and never left each other’s sides again. This week she became his widow after 63 years of marriage.
High School Days…the future Mr. and Mrs. Smith pose next to his 1940 Plymouth in 1952.
About a year away from getting married. Grandpa at 17 in 1952.
Enjoying a warm summer day with his mother-in-law, Darlene Jones.
Holding one of their many Boston Terriers.
A little bit older, but still proud of his car. 1960s
All dressed up for Easter Sunday church service in 1962. Front left is my uncle Jim and right is my dad Jeff.
Thanks to everyone who enjoyed a look into my family. Love you, Grandpa!-Jimi