Norma Marion Lynch Babbitt, 98, died Friday, December 11, 2020 at her home. She was born on November 4, 1922 in rural Douglas County, KS, the second child and only daughter to Albert and Helen Lynch (nee Howard). Norma lived in Douglas County her entire life. As a child she attended Oakridge school, Pleasant Valley school and Fairview Methodist Church. She loved playing baseball and all things competitive with her older brother Howard and their friends. In 1937, her mother was expecting a third baby and went into labor in the middle of a snowstorm. The doctor’s car got stuck in a snow drift. While Norma’s father went off to retrieve the doctor, Norma, age 14, delivered her baby brother, Clarence “Tod”, herself. After the doctor and her father arrived, Norma made breakfast for everyone.
Norma graduated from Lawrence’s Liberty Memorial High School in 1941. A year later, she married her high school sweetheart, Dale Babbitt, on January 15, 1942. They built a family and a life of farming. Norma and Dale had a daughter, Helen Carol in 1943, and a second daughter, Phyllis Elaine, in 1945. The budding family lived in a small house on their first farm, situated along the Wakarusa River, Northwest of Clinton. What it lacked in running water, it made up for in character and good soil. In 1957, Norma and Dale had their third and final child, a son named Alan Dale.
Norma worked with Dale plowing, planting, harvesting, fixing equipment, cooking too much food, and keeping detailed records of everything that happened on their farm. She was a devoted member of Clinton Presbyterian Church, and played softball nearly as religiously. The Clinton Girl’s Class B softball team went to the State tournament multiple times with Norma playing first base and second base. The team often placed in the top three and won the State tournament twice. Norma served as church treasurer for many years, organized the annual Turkey Supper for 25 years, attended the Ladies Circle group, and served as an elder.
Norma was the first woman to serve on the Douglas County Farm Service Agency Board. She was also an active 4-H leader during her children’s youth. While Norma was known for her in-charge, all-work, no-nonsense attitude, she harbored a soft spot for 4-H, being outside, custard pie, Royals baseball, blue jeans, and her family.
When the Flood Control Act of 1962 authorized the damming of the Wakarusa River and subsequent construction of Clinton Lake, Norma and Dale had to sell their little house in the bottom and all of their surrounding farmland. They moved up the hill to a two-story white farmhouse west of Clinton. It had a large porch and the luxury of indoor plumbing. However, seeing the boats and trailers drive by on their way to the new lake was like salt on a wound to Norma and Dale, so they relocated to a farm in Southwest Douglas county, where they lived out the rest of their lives.
After 56 years of marriage, Dale died in 1999. Norma farmed as long as her body would let her, and then a bit after that. In her later years, Norma was still quick to speak her mind, but equally quick to squeeze the oxygen out of you in a bear hug. She enjoyed watching The Price is Right,
Jeopardy, anything with John Wayne, reading the newspaper, driving around in her gator, mowing and spoiling her grandchildren with cookies and cream ice cream.
Norma died at home with her family. She told her descendants to behave when she was gone. At peace with the life she had lived and knowing her time on Earth was up, Norma was eager to join her Lord, Dale, her parents, and brothers Howard and Tod, as well as many other family and friends.
Norma is survived by her children, Helen O’Trimble of Perry, Phyllis Anderson of Lawrence, and Alan Babbitt (Debbie) of Overbrook, grandchildren Steven O’Trimble (Larinda), Chad O’Trimble (Sheila), Holly O’Trimble, Marni Penrod (David), Marci Spaw (Chris), Randy Babbitt, Ryan Babbitt (Rae), Brenna Henery (Josh) and Casey Babbitt, nineteen great grandchildren, and four great-great grandchildren. She is also survived by farming partners who became family, the children and grandchildren of the late Marvin and Barbie Cox in Wallace County, KS. In addition to her parents, brothers and husband, Norma was preceded in death by her son-in-law, Robert O’Trimble, daughter-in-law, Coleen Reece Babbitt, and former grandson-in-law, Cory Scott.
The family would like to thank all of Norma’s caregivers over the years, especially Reina and Michelle.
Graveside services will be at 2:00pm, Thursday, December 17th at the Clinton Cemetery in Clinton, KS. Please feel free to dress casually and for warmth. Visitation will be held at Rumsey-Yost Funeral home, Wednesday, December 16th from 9:00am to 8:00pm. Memorials in Norma’s honor may be given to the Clinton Presbyterian Church or The Douglas County Visiting Nurses Association in care of Rumsey-Yost Funeral Home, 601 Indiana St, P.O. Box 1260, Lawrence, KS 66044. For more information or to post a condolence, please go to rumsey-yost.com.