Mrs. Norma (John) Kennedy, 92 passed away on Saturday, May 23rd, 2020.
Norma was born in Coldspring, NY on June 23rd, 1928 to Loretta (Watt) and Ulysses John. She spoke often of her memories growing up on her father’s farm and the pure joy she had for her brother and sisters.
Norma raised her children in Buffalo, New York but continued to keep her family connected on Seneca Territory. While living in Buffalo she worked for Calspan working with independent engineers and government contracts for the aerospace industry. It was in that role Norma received top secret security clearance.
Norma received her Bachelor’s Degree from Empire State College and was instrumental in social services within Seneca Nation and New York State law. In the 1980’s, Norma chartered the first Seneca Nation Human Services Department to advocate tribal rights and assist members in dealing with a variety of support related programs including alcohol and substance abuse, child and women’s welfare, financial education and many others. Her passion for learning established her as one of the first Native American Credentialed Alcohol Counselors. She later moved on to Syracuse to work for the Bureau of Indian Affairs as a Tribal Liaison. Norma continued to give back to the Seneca community serving in tribal government roles as Clerk, Peacemaker Court Judge and as a committee member of the judicial conference. Most recently, she found more ways to give back to her Seneca people as a First Language Elder Mentor for the Seneca Language Department Master Apprentice Program. She spent time educating those who had a passion for the language. She could always be found at her table, ready to engage in conversation with a cup of Tim Horton’s coffee in hand and a huge smile on her face.
She could never fully retire even at the age of 91, because she always enjoyed learning. She would often say learning new things kept her young. Norma enjoyed her children, her family and the simple things in life. She was a caring, sincere friend to all. She was an amazing cook who also loved her plants, gardening, shopping, restaurants, laughing and car rides. Norma was beautiful, elegant and full of dignity. She was adventurous in her travels and she loved seeing how others lived. At the age of 87, she took the trip of a lifetime and experienced Italy with a continued smile on her face. She also explored Hawaii, California, the Florida and the North Carolina coast to name a few.
Today our Nation is at a great loss, but Norma knew how to seek beauty in any situation and she made all of the lives she touched even better. .
She raised three devoted children: Diane Kennedy, Ralph Kennedy (Teri) and Cindy Mohr (Brian), and loved her grandchildren: David, Marc, Kari, Jessica & Travis, and many great grandchildren.
She is survived by her sister Lillian Taylor, who worked with her where they both could teach and share our native Seneca language.
Private funeral services were held May 30th which was limited to immediate family at her request followed by a drive by viewing at the Steamburg Cemetary. A celebration of Norma’s life an upcoming time and day to be determined.
A controlled viewing was be held at Norma’s house on May 29th and a private family funeral was held on May 30th followed by a drive by viewing at the Steamburg Cemetery.