Norma Sandberg Mason, formerly of Missoula, died in Spokane, Washingotn, on Dec. 8, 2020. For the past seven years she had waged a courageous battle with Alzheimer’s disease. For as long as possible, Norma stayed in close contact with family and friends, just as she had throughout her life.
Norma was born in Richmond, Virginia, on Oct. 21, 1944 and was adopted as an infant by Victor and Audrey Painton Sandberg of Missoula, Montana. She attended Missoula schools and then the University of Montana. At the University of Montana, she joined Delta Gamma Sorority. It was a membership that was important to her for the rest of her life and a source of many lifelong friendships. Her favorite college experience was spent aboard a ship called Semester at Sea. This program allowed Norma to travel the world, all while studying on the boat and exploring different ports she traveled to. She learned about many different cultures during this semester on the water and had the time of her life. Norma was a journalism major and she was proud to call herself a journalist for the rest of her life. It is not surprising that she was an enthusiastic storyteller. After graduation she wrote for the Missoulian and it was forever her favorite newspaper. She also kept a subscription to be able to keep up on all Missoula news – especially Montana Grizzly sports scores.
In 1965, she married Terry Hober and the couple became parents to three sons Todd, Brett and Jeffrey. The couple later divorced but remained great friends and would even celebrate Christmas together with the three boys and their families. One of Norma’s favorite pastimes which she shared with Terry was attending sporting events for Todd, Brett and Jeffrey and cheering for their children. Norma was always the loudest and most passionate person in the stands. It was always reassuring to her children to look over and see her at every away and home game no matter what the weather conditions outside were. Norma worked at the University of Montana in the athletic department, a job she loved. She was an excellent cook; she made a world class Taco Salad, Sautéed Jumbo Shrimp, and Mud Pie that would have you begging for seconds.
On April 14, 1984. Norma married Lt. Col. USAF, retired, William Mason and became a devoted stepmother to Bill’s two grown daughters. Her life with Bill introduced Norma to worlds that the shy lady had not imagined for herself. The couple enjoyed extensive travel, skiing, hiking, camping, sailing, flying, raising champion Weimaraner show dogs and building their dream home on a mountain in Friday Harbor, Washington. While in Friday Harbor, they volunteered for many groups — Norma’s favorite was the local library. She was a voracious reader and any time spent with books was good time. As with every place she lived finding time to play serious bridge was a must. Bill preceded Norma in death when he suddenly passed away on July 24, 2012. Accepting Bill’s death was extremely difficult for Norma. Shortly after that tragic event, the diagnosis of Alzheimer’s was made.
Norma was raised as an only child by Audrey and Victor Sandberg who both preceded her in death. Norma’s adoption was a gift to the Sandbergs, and Norma was forever grateful for the loving upbringing they gave her. She made many trips to Sun City, Arizona to visit Victor and Audrey as they were loving parents and grandparents. They both meant the world to Norma and she loved them both with all her heart.
After Victor and Audrey’s death and with Bill’s support and help, Norma began the endeavor of finding her natural birth parents. Norma was able to realize her dream of finding her birth parents all the way across the country in Virginia. It was an unbelievably exciting time when the girl raised as an only child found that she had three brothers and a sister living a plane ride away. She was welcomed into the Clements family and traveled to visit them several times. The story of the search and this new part of her life was one that she vowed to write. It would have been a journalistic success if she had only had the time.
The woman who had so much love for all of her families: Hober, Mason and Clements is survived by sons Todd Hober of Missoula; Brett Hober and his children Hayden and Halle of Spokane; Jeffrey Hober and his son Michael of Seattle; step daughter Kathryn Mason Vanderput and her children Alexandra and Elizabeth of Calgary; step daughter Pam Mason Foster, her children Emma, Wakefield, and Clarke of Houston; and her daughter-in-law Melanie Sullivan Hober of Spokane. Her Virginia family includes her siblings Eugene, Carlyle, Catherine, Bernard, and their families. She was a devoted best friend since fifth grade to Shari Livingston Dayton of Billings.
Memorial services will be held this summer in Missoula, Montana. The family will announce a date two weeks prior to the Celebration of Life via social media and The Missoulian newspaper. The Celebration of Life is being delayed until the summertime due to COVID restrictions and safety for all who want to celebrate her extraordinary life. In lieu of flowers, Norma’s family suggests donations to The Alzheimer’s Association in her name.