Norma Eileen Ralf, beloved wife, mother, grandmother, great-grandmother and great-great-grandmother, 95 years old, passed away Monday, September 7, 2020. She was born Norma Eileen Bunker in Venice, CA on April 10, 1925 as an only child to Alan Bunker and Nellie (Mortensen) Bunker.
Norma met John Ralf while in high school, but he was more interested in cars than girls. Eventually he realized this pretty girl was more attractive than engines. They were married May 8, 1943 in her parent's living room. They started their married life in a small two-room house where their first daughter, Cheryl, was born. They bought their first home about the time their second daughter, Kathy, was born followed a few years later by their third daughter, Melody.
Mom and dad moved several times over the years but always in California; from Venice, to Culver City, and finally to Torrance. Dad opened his own muffler shop in Torrance and Mom was always by his side keeping the books, running for muffler parts, delivering cars all the while making sure her husband and girls had everything they wanted or needed. After all three girls married, she and John followed their dream of living in Big Bear Lake, CA. They were happy living in the mountains among the cool pine trees in a beautiful home built by John. While living there, mom took a job at Brown Bear Gift shop where she worked many years enjoying the tourists.
In 1996 mom and dad moved to Albuquerque, NM where there were no forest fires, earthquakes and less snow. They loved being near their daughter, granddaughter and five great-grandchildren. Life was a bit slower and less hectic here and the Vineyard was perfect for them where they enjoyed playing cards, neighborhood dinners and mom could keep up her line dancing. If there was music, she was dancing. She had many friends and always had a card group going. She and dad loved travelling to their special city of San Francisco, cruising especially to Alaska, and visiting their children and grandchildren as long as they could. Dad had a love of steam trains and they spent many hours on the road searching out special steam engines across the U.S. He was an Exalted Ruler of Big Bear Elks and mom ruled right along with him.
She belonged to Grace Methodist Church. Mom loved cats and there wasn’t a time in her life that she didn’t have at least one cat by her side. Her favorite treat was to go with Cari to Wendy’s for a hamburger and a chocolate frosty. But it was through her years of journaling that we can really see the tremendous love that mom had for everyone. She kept track of everything!
Mom and dad were married for 63 years and were rarely apart. Theirs was truly a love story, one broken only by John’s death on June 12, 2006.
She is survived by three daughters, Cheryl Ralf Harris and husband, Richard of Corrales, NM, Kathy Ralf Davison and husband, Michael of Lake Forest, CA and Melody Ralf Taninies of Des Moines, IA. Also surviving her are seven grandchildren, Christopher Harris and wife, Denise of Frisco, TX, Michael Harris and wife, Betsy of Skokie, IL, Charistiana "Cari" Harris Barry and husband, Bill of Corrales, NM, Mark Vasquez and Jennifer of Pfafftown, NC, Julia Davison Norquist and husband, Noel of Naperville, IL, Nicole Davison of Lake Forest, CA, Sandra Taninies Hoover and husband, Zach of Des Moines, IA, and Autumn Taninies Ciccone of Cheyenne, WY. There are 18 great-grandchildren and four great-great-grandchildren.
Norma's last year was spent being tenderly cared for by wonderful caregivers at Beehive Enchanted Hills. We saw such love given to her. We could not have asked for better care! We witnessed in our daily visits their consistent devotion as they showered our mother with love and attention. When the Covid came along, this exceptional staff sacrificed even more because we could not enter the building or touch our mother. They became our extended family and we could not have asked for anything more.
Per her wishes mom will be cremated and her ashes will be with dad at Gate of Heaven. We know that daddy was waiting to walk with her into a beautiful Heaven to be with our Lord where they can now dance together and enjoy that 5:00 p.m. martini watching the sunset. A Memorial Service will be held on Thursday, October 22, 2020, 3:00 p.m. at FRENCH – Westside. If you are unable to attend the service, you can view the live stream by clicking on the link below. Since mom loved cats, please consider making a contribution to CARMA at www.carmanm.com.
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