Norma J. Setliff, 81, died Sunday, Dec. 29, 2013, surrounded by her immediate family, including four “grand-doggers,” at hospice.
She was born in Cincinnati, Ark. to Orvall “Pete” and Daisy Snelling, spending time in Oklahoma, and finally moved permanently to California, graduating from Ripon High School in 1950.
After graduating from high school, she was hired as a secretary/administrative assistant by Tay-Holbrook, a plumbing supplier in Stockton. One-and-a-half years after marrying Arnold Setliff in 1952, ready to have her first child, she stepped down to become a mother and Tay-Holbrook found it necessary to hire two people to replace her. During their marriage she was called upon to work at various businesses, and when asked to work at a couple of the businesses that were floundering, she managed to turn them into thriving entities. She also attended MJC and obtained her LVN degree, graduating at the top of her class.
Her quiet intelligence, preferring to stand unobtrusive in the background, was a huge influence on her children. She was a very astute businesswoman, an attribute that she and her husband possessed and gratefully passed to their children.
In 2012, a party was held in her and her husband’s honor to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary. Their son, Randy, worked tirelessly behind the scenes to get his father’s 1951 “Merc” roadworthy in order to pick her up in it – she was so delighted when she saw it pull into their driveway. At the party, one of her husband’s ushers, Lloyd ‘Pepsi’ Cheek, and one of her bridesmaids, Marilyn VanderWeide, were present and Lloyd revealed how the Setliff’s first met. The couple was introduced by their respective friends Lloyd and Marilyn at the famous “Burges Drive-In” in Modesto. There was an instant attraction and when Mr. Setliff asked her if she would like to take a ride in his new “Merc,” she replied with an enthusiastic, “Yes.”
Less than a year later they were married, full of promises that were completely fulfilled. She recognized an ambitious young man in her husband, and he recognized a very good woman. Little did he know what a wonderful partner she would make for the next 62 years; he is so thankful for all their time together, even though the last 12 years were most challenging.
Her husband recalls her beautiful blue eyes, and a stunning figure, and she recalled him as a very handsome man with luxurious wavy brown hair, and gorgeous sky-blue eyes.
The diagnosis of stage 4 lymphoma in 2002 devastated the family, told by Stanford and UCSF that she needed to get her “affairs in order.” Her strong resolve was incredible, many subsequent health issues threatened over and over to take her, but she stayed the course, fighting each challenge with dignity, and grace, her example shall always be an inspiration to her family.
She was always a lady; born in humble circumstances, no blue blood had anything on her in the way of class, always carrying herself regally. Because of her strong faith in God, her family is comforted that she passed on a Sunday, the Lord’s Day. Her family is grateful for the time they had with her and found solace and strength in her presence, which is still strongly felt in their lives. The extra time her family had with her, surprising many in the medical industry, sustains them.
She is survived by her loving husband, Arnold; children, Lynn (Jerry) Barlow of Modesto, Randy (Jenny) Setliff of Modesto, Katherine Setliff of Riverbank; brother, Larry (Ellen) Snelling of Escalon; grandchildren, Heather (Stephen) Hellrigel of Hawaii, Ashley (Luke) Garcia of Folsom, Natalie Setliff (fiancé Chris Gould) of Australia, Thomas Setliff of Los Angeles; great-grandchildren, Willow, Caspen, and Elias Hellrigel of Hawaii.
She was preceded in death by her parents; and brother, Don Snelling.
Visitation will be from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Friday, Jan. 10 at Riverbank Memorial Chapel. A funeral service will be held at 10 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 11 at Riverbank Methodist Church with interment to follow at Burwood Cemetery, Escalon.
In lieu of flowers, remembrances may be made to the United Methodist Church of Riverbank; or to the Modesto Gospel Mission.
The Oakdale (Calif.) Leader
Jan. 8, 2014