Friday, May 17, 2024

Norma Karnes

| June 29, 2005 12:00 AM

Libby native Norma Jane Switzer Karnes, 81, died on May 27, 2005, at Coupeville, Wash., after a long battle with cancer.

She was born on Nov. 29, 1923, into one of Libby's pioneer families, and married high school sweetheart Harry Karnes on June 7, 1941, at Bonners Ferry, Idaho.

Harry and Norma moved to Portland, Ore., where they were both employed at Columbia Aircraft Company.

On Oct. 30, 1942, during World War II, Harry enlisted in the U.S. Army Air Corps and was eventually deployed overseas. During his early enlistment, Norma worked in wartime industries painting aircraft in Hobbs, N.M., and later lived at Libby, where their son Stephen was born.

After the war, the couple returned to Portland where Karolyn and Connie were born. Along with her family, home and friends, playing the piano was the love of Norma's life. She was a pianist for an Hawaiian American Band and played for numerous gala affairs and fraternal organizations in the Portland area. She also taught ballroom dance at the Arthur Murray Dance Studio and was employed as a retail associate at Meier & Frank.

Later the couple started a marine canvas upholstery business in Oregon City where they lived until retiring in 1980,

After moving to the Seattle area in 1982, they built a home in the Sierra community of Coupeville and Norma became pianist for the Oak Harbor Silvertones, a group affiliated with the area's Senior Center.

For 18 years she provided music for the group and created the music schedules for the center dances. Harry and Norma also worked for the Sierra community as maintenance personnel and pool attendants.

She was preceded in death by parents Earl and Viola Switzer and her husband Harry.

Survivors include her three chidren and their spouses, Stephen and Fe Karnes, San Diego, Calif.; Carolyn and Don Ross, Molalla, Ore., and Connie and Ron Miller, Troutdale, Ore.; grandchildren Jonathon Ross, Julie Mota and Stephanie Hansen, sister Shirley Mason, Bellingham, Wash., and brothers Roger Switzer, Spokane and Bruce Switzer, Libby.

A celebration of Norma's life was conducted by the Rev. Carol Harlacher on June 25 at St. Stephen's Anglican Church, 555 Regatta Drive, Oak Harbor, followed by a reception.

Memorials may be made to the Oak Harbor Senior Center or the American Cancer Society.

Arrangements were under care of Burley Funeral Chapel, Oak Harbor.