New Life Begins at 90 for Elsie B. Norval


FAMILY CELEBRATION: The family and friends of Elsie Norval came together to celebrate her 90th birthday. From left in the back row are Chris Kelley, Emily Kelley, Kathy Kelley, Larry Kelley, Judy Norval, Jennifer Norval, Dan Norval, Renee Wepfer and Kara Williams. Seated from left are Carol Kelley, Elsie Norval and Robin Williams. Kids are Ian Kelley and Julian Norval.


At the dawn of Elsie Norval’s 10th decade, her faith in God and her adventurous, couragous spirit has brought her to the Heartland of America.

The Connecticut native, whose parents came from Hungary, moved from her gorgeous 80-acre New England farm to Tulsa this past January.

Why Tulsa?

She came to live with her daughter, Carol Norval Kelley, 21-year teacher at Metro Christian Academy, and her family including Kathy and Chris, two of her eight grandchildren, and Ian, the youngest of her six great grand children.

Her other daughter, Robin and daughters Renee and Kara, her son Peter’s four children, Rob, Dan, Chris and Jennifer, and great grandson Julian came to Tulsa to celebrate her 90th birthday.

Over 100 family and new friends came to her birthday party Oct. 16 at First United Methodist Church.

Her daughter Carol taught her four-year-old class at Metro a Hungarian song, “Czak Egy Kis Langy” (‘Just a Little Girl’), which they sang to her in Hungarian. Grandson Chris Kelley’s wife, Emily, a chef, prepared all food for the party.

Norval’s life is one of adventure, bravery, courage, a God-loving Christian faith and belief in Jesus Christ.

A blind date in Hollywood in 1941 led to a 62-year marriage to her late, beloved husband, Robert. They even danced to a young Frank Sinatra’s live performance.
But tragedy befell her about three years ago.

Norval mysteriously lost sight in first one, then the other eye about three years ago, just as she was recovering from the sudden passing of the love of her life, Robert, two years earlier.

The rarity of her sudden blindness brought famed Cambridge Ophthalmologist Dr. Stephen Foster, but even he couldn’t solve the mystery.

Her courage trumped this tragedy.

She bravely charged ahead, because Norval’s Christian faith is bigger than being physical handicapped, blind and widowed.

Thoughtfully, she wears her red-rimmed glasses so people won’t feel sorry for her.
Now that she is living in Tulsa and surrounded by hundreds of loving people who have been praying for her through these tragedies, she feels she can see.

“I don’t even feel like I’m blind when I’m here,” she says of being in Tulsa, she’s enjoying life so much. “If I knew how good I would feel here, I would have moved earlier.”

She listens daily to Classic, 40s, 50s and Christian music, studies the Bible with her new-found friend, loyal caregiver Mary Briseno, and is a prayer warrior.
She has found an oasis here.

Listening to the radio, she discovered David Ingles’ Oasis Network, based in Broken Arrow.

She loves his music, and looks forward to meeting him.

“She has a constant smile on her face after 90 years, showing her joyful countenance and true love of God,” says Leslie Mattax, one of many long-distance prayers who finally met Norval at her party after years of praying for her.

She even found someone to share her native Hungarian language, Rose Owellen, a younger senior citizen.

After sharing many animated phone visits in Hungarian, they finally met at her 90th party.

Always adventurous, when her daughter, Carol, became Miss Connecticut 1969 and appeared with Paul Newman, Norval went up to him and said, “I’m Miss Connecticut’s mom,” and grabbed a kiss from the Hollywood legend.
Life for Norval has always been exciting.

Nieces Donna Lee and Carol Lee came from Massachusetts to celebrate their aunt.
She told them about the time she took a 22 rifle, and with a quick shooting lesson from oldest child, Peter, then 12, shot a gorgeous woodchuck who was eating garden vegetables she had planted.

Tulsa has been a pleasant surprise. “This has been the greatest Christian witness I’ve ever had,” talking about the love folks have showered her with in Tulsa.
“These people don’t just talk the talk. They walk the walk.” People say that about her.

Her outlook and love of life is as strong as ever. Life is truly beginning at 90 for Norval in her new Tulsa surroundings.

Updated 01-17-2011

Back to Top


email (we never post emails)
  Textile Help

Back to Top

Contact GTR News

About Post Author