Thursday, January 28, 2016

Memento Mori: Alta Norville Dies on the Same Day the Challenger Blew Up in 1986

From Wiki Commons: "Challenger explosion" by Kennedy Space Center.
Licensed under Public Domain via Wikimedia Commons

I'll always remember January 28, 1986, the day my grandmother, Alta (Slater) Norville (1917-1986), died in Casa Grande, Arizona, but not for the reason you might think.

While I knew that a teacher named Altamae Slater had given my mother up for adoption, I didn't find out what happened to her until the late 1990's.  Yet I remember the day she died because it was the same day as the space shuttle Challenger disaster.

My memory is that I was just getting settled in my 9th grade English class for another day at Muirlands Junior High School (now Middle School) in La Jolla.   It was my first experience of a national tragedy where everyone remembered where they were when they heard the news.

I can only imagine that this must have been a terrible day for Alta's husband, Pete Norville, and for Alta's nieces, nephews, and extended family.

Photocopy of Alta's obituary sent to me from the Casa Grande Historical Society.  Notice that toward the end the article it notes that her husband was her only (immediate) survivor.  Of course, the reality is that she had a daughter (and granddaughter!) who survived her, but the article's author didn't know that and Alta was not known to have told anyone about the baby she gave up.  Oh, it's these little details that make genealogy so fun.  

© 2016 Copyright, Christine Manczuk, All Rights Reserved.

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