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Obituary: BRISCOE, NORMA

Norma S. (Wolf) Briscoe1916 ~ 2013Devoted to her family, her church and the rich soil of her garden, Norma Briscoe lived a long and productive life. She died Friday as she lived happy, at peace and full, on her way home from a favorite meal. She was 96."For an old lady who is legally blind, deaf and half dumb, I think I'm doing pretty well," she would say, setting aside the pains and serious ailments of her final year with a spunky, positive outlook.She was an environmentalist and frugal reservationist who would rather sew an old garment than buy a new one. She got more joy in planting and teaching than harvesting or consuming.Norma was a pioneering organic gardener, always ready to share her knowledge and skill with others as well as the products of her garden and kitchen. The day before she passed away, she had been digging into her lush compost, preparing her big backyard garden in Holladay for another season of flowers, herbs and vegetables.She planned to cut back with only five tomato plants this year but told her son, Roscoe, she might as well plant the full row of 20. She left a thriving, loving family and a blossoming spring garden full of new life.Norma was a creative spirit and a humble artist who worked with the bounties of the earth, always collecting seeds, pods, dried weeds, cattails, and all sorts of odds and ends.Norma was born June 17, 1916, in Brighton (Buenavista,) Utah, to Franz Emil and Johanna Lucas Wolf, who were Mormon immigrants from Germany. She married David Chesley Briscoe on Dec. 6, 1940. He died on Oct. 22, 2001.She never graduated from high school and never worked outside the home during her 61 years of marriage. Living alone and independently since Chesley's death, Norma completed a self-published recipe book handed out to family and friends on her 90th birthday. Despite being barely able to see pen or paper, she then hand-wrote her life's story in her beautiful calligraphy-like script, with the help of daughter-in-law Leonor Briscoe.Before her marriage, Norma worked for nearly 10 years for the wealthy Murphy family as a nanny to their children. In her final years, she and Chesley lived a few blocks from the Murphy home in Holladay.Norma and Chesley were two independent spirits who found deep love and a remarkable compatibility despite differing views of religion. Chesley didn't have much use for the Mormon church, but supported his wife in her devotion to the Primary, Scouting, and other church callings.She referred to death as "moving on to her next assignment." Those who loved her, like to think she's tending God's garden alongside Chesley. Like a true gardener, she wanted a humble epitaph: "Here lies, Norma, still composting."Norma's toughness and tolerance for people of other races and beliefs and her quiet support for civil rights, including gay rights and gay marriage, set her apart as a progressive example for the women of her family, her church and her generation."Physically, I plan to simplify my life," she wrote. "Then put in as much gardening as my ailing, aching back will stand. But most importantly, I plan to keep the faith and endure to the end."That's exactly what she did.Norma is survived by son and daughter-in-law, David and Leonor of Honolulu, son Roscoe of Salt Lake City, four grandchildren, Jeleen Briscoe, Narra Geisinger, Larak Briscoe and Maya Terhune; grandsons-in-law, Nick Geisinger and Greg Terhune, and four great-grandchildren, Sasha, Eva and Kai Geisinger, and Chesley Terhune.Viewing will be on Friday, April 26, 6:30 - 8:30 p.m at the Holladay 28th Ward, 2625 East Milo Way (4910 South off Holladay Blvd.,) where memorial services will be held Saturday, April 27, 11 a.m. Interment will follow at Murray City Cemetery, 5600 South Vine St. , with Bishop Paul Harris officiating. Funeral arrangements by McDougal Funeral Home, 4330 South Redwood Rd. 84123.