Norman Lewis Forster, 87, died extremely unexpectedly at his home in Bettendorf on September 15, 2022. He was six days shy of his 88th birthday. He was active, on the move, and planning fun things for the future through his final hours.
Norman was born on September 21, 1934, in Roseville, Illinois, the youngest of three children born to Parks Kingsley and Florence Irene (Hedges) Forster. The family moved a lot when Norm was young before settling in Fairfield, Iowa. Norm graduated from Fairfield High School in 1953, where he excelled at academics and sports, including playing in the 1953 State Football Championship game where he “threw blocks up and down the field.” With his father, he farmed and also worked on some of his inventions, including Forster Hybrid Seed Corn, which, upon his dad’s death in 1966, was acquired by Pioneer Seed Corn. Norm’s family relocated to Houghton, Iowa during his senior year, but he continued to commute until graduation. It was in Houghton that Norm met “the girl across the street,” Carol Kathleen Dingman, who he would end up marrying.
Norm knew he was going to get drafted, so he enlisted in the Navy. Upon performing very well on the intelligence exams, he was quickly promoted to Communications Electrician on the ship. Norman spent time in Santa Barbara, Hawaii, Midway Island, Japan, Taiwan, Guam, Hong Kong and The Philippines during his two years of service. He saw and experienced so much and had many tales to tell.
Upon discharge, Norm married Carol on June 7, 1958, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Houghton, Iowa. Norm converted to Catholicism shortly before their wedding. They were blessed with 64 wonderful years of marriage. The couple lived in Madison, Wisconsin while Norm attended school. He graduated with a Major in Business and Minors in Mathematics and Economics from The University of Wisconsin- Madison.
Once Norm graduated from the University of Wisconsin, he accepted a job with Air Force Logistics Command in Milwaukee, Wisconsin with the AC Electronics Division of General Motors. There, he monitored contracts for space and missile guidance and navigation systems, which included work on Apollo 11. He served a long career with the Federal Government, which allowed Carol and him to live in a number of different cities. He had many good traveling stories from his days visiting Army Ammunition Plants across the country. Eventually, Norm transferred to the Rock Island Arsenal and this is where he would finish out his career.
It was in Bettendorf on January 7, 1981, that the pride and joy of Norm’s life, Caroline Claire, was born. He was the best dad who wore his love on his sleeve. He spent countless hours playing, serving as her hair model, swimming, chauffeuring, going to sporting events, theatre and music events, playing tennis, traveling, shopping, building elaborate science experiments and doing anything else Caroline wanted to do. He served as Caroline’s role model and the person she knew she could always turn to for sound advice and lots of fun.
Norm retired from the Federal Government on January 31, 1994, after serving 33 years as a Civil Servant for the Navy and Army. His final position was Chief of Project Planning Control for the Army Armament Munitions and Chemical Command, although he served in many roles throughout his career. After retiring, Norm served as Business Manager at Our Lady of Lourdes for eleven years, as sitting around never suited him and he found golf boring.
The second and third great joys of Norm’s life were born on March 30, 2013 and July 6, 2017. Ronan and Claire were best friends with their Pa. Continuing the tradition of being a constant playmate, chauffeur and entertainer, their favorite thing to do was to go to Pa and Ma’s. The love, patience and fun he showed them was amazing. He wore his title of Pa with pride and the kids were so lucky to have the best. He spent countless hours playing, entertaining, teaching, talking, watching cartoons, taking them swimming and to the park, having movie nights, watching their shows and, as he would say, “constantly feeding them.” They will have to learn to make his famous “midnight” snacks and carry on all of his special traditions.
Norm’s whole world was his wife, daughter and grandkids. He was a provider and always made sure they were well taken care of until the last day of his life. He was kind, intelligent, patient, humble (so this obituary would completely embarrass him) and a man of great integrity and values. He always stood up for what was right. He was reliable, dependable and always early. He had a dry wit and was a faithful Green Bay Packers and Iowa Hawkeyes fan. He loved going to Northern Michigan in the summer and introduced this love to Caroline, Ronan and Claire. One crowning achievement was he could drink a beer while standing on his head. There will never be another man like Norm.
Norman Lewis is survived by his wife: Carol Kathleen (Dingman) of Bettendorf; daughter: Caroline Claire Sullivan and her husband Eric Michael Sullivan; grandchildren: Ronan Forster Sullivan and Claire Kelly Sullivan all of Chicago, and his sister: Helen Forster of Webster Groves, Missouri. He is also survived by nieces: Bonnie (Dale) Frels and Peggy Parrish, sisters-in-law and brothers-in-law: Mary Ann McGuire (the late Bernie) of St. Louis, Jeanne (Greg) Pieper of St. Paul, Iowa, Missy (the late Bernard John) Dingman of Scottsdale, Dorothy McLaughlin (Michael) of St. Louis, Margaret (John) Rector of Buckeye, Arizona, Jeffrey (the late Laura Dingman) Stuffings of Longmont, Colorado and by numerous Dingman nieces and nephews.
Norm was proceeded in death by his parents: Parks Kingsley and Florence Irene (Hedges) Forster; sister and her husband: Lois (Forster) and Vernon Parrish; his mother and father-in-law: Bernard and Claire (Kelly) Dingman; infant granddaughter; Kathleen Therese Sullivan and nephew: Mark Pieper. We know they were waiting with open arms to greet Norm in Heaven. We were not prepared or ready to say good-bye and we will continue to love and miss him so much.
A Memorial Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11:30 am, Thursday, September 29, 2022, at St. John the Baptist Catholic Church in Houghton, Iowa with Father Dan Dorau and Father Bruce DeRammelaere as concelebrants.
Burial will follow in St. John’s Cemetery, Houghton with full military rites presented by the West Point American Legion Holtz – Geers Post #668.
In lieu of flowers, please say a prayer for Norman or have Masses dedicated. Memorials may be made in Norman’s honor to St. John’s Catholic Church.
Schmitz Funeral Home of West Point is assisting the family with arrangements. Online condolences may be made to the family at www.schmitzfuneralhomes.com.