Norma J. Karasch, age 78 of Sauk Centre passed away peacefully surrounded by her family on January 21, 2021, at the CentraCare Hospital in Sauk Centre. A Mass of Christian Burial will be held at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, January 27 at St. Paul’s Catholic Church in Sauk Centre with Rev. Greg Paffel officiating. Burial will be in the parish cemetery. The Mass will be live streamed and can be viewed by clicking on the link https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4KDIeD7NqzA&feature=youtu.be. Visitation will be from 4 to 8 p.m. Tuesday and 9:30 to 10:30 a.m. Wednesday at the Patton-Schad Funeral Home in Sauk Centre.
Norma Jean Gamradt was born on December 14, 1942, in Sauk Centre, Minnesota, to Gerhard and Edith (Farrow) Gamradt. As the eldest of eight children, growing up on the family’s dairy farm, Norma quickly learned the true meaning of hard work and careful value of all that she had and earned. These were values she took forward throughout life.
At the age of 10, Norma contracted polio and was sent to the Sister Kenny Institute in Minneapolis for treatment. She was fortunate to receive Sister Kenny’s revolutionary polio treatment of hot pads and gentle exercise to fight polio’s paralysis. When she returned home, she put her hard work ethic and determination into fighting her way back to health. However, she often thought she did have some life-long effects from the disease.
Norma’s job in the barn was to carry buckets of milk and pour them into the separator. While she was working, she came to know the fun-loving, charismatic, Raymond J. Karasch – often Ray J to her – who was working for her dad. It wasn’t long before there was a lot of flirting going on over the Gamradt supper table. They soon were dating and were married on October 17, 1961 in Sauk Centre.
Norma and Ray always enjoyed a close circle of friends that they played with, danced with, sang with, and cried with. Norma always cherished her friends, and they were the centerpieces of her life, living out the true definition of “life-long friendships.”
In 1964 they welcomed their first son, Lyle Raymond. A year or so later, they bought their house at 927 South Ash Street in Sauk Centre where they welcomed their daughter, Kimberly Marie and later sons, Daryl Gerhard, and Mitchell Allen. After Kim was born, Norma became a full-time homemaker, always putting the love and care of her family before herself. She used her creativity to sew her children’s clothing, her work ethic to plant and harvest the huge garden that she and Ray planted every year. She canned pickles, tomato juice, fruit, and froze many a vegetable. She used her tomato juice to make spaghetti sauce that was the best in town.
In time Norma welcomed her children’s spouses into the fold and was thrilled to become a grandmother and great grandmother. Her sense of humor and fun-loving attitude was put to good use with her grandkids. She especially enjoyed water fights with them and showering them with monster cookies and seasoned pretzels.
Norma and Ray were masters at hospitality. They invited everyone in to sit at the kitchen table where they shared food, drink, and stories. Norma would often say, “If this table could talk, oh the stories it would tell!” They loved to have friends over to play cards at their table too. Their card games were an ongoing rivalry between them, with Ray giving “signals” to unsuspecting partners and Norma recognizing those signals and sometimes using them to her advantage.
Through the years, Norma was always at the center of her Gamradt family, loving them and showering them with gifts from her antique store or garage sale finds, and special gifts of her creativity and talents. She made graduation quilts for her nieces and nephews, and lap robes, wall hangings, tree skirts, table runners, you name it, for her family and friends.
Norma loved the Lord and leaned on her Christian faith. Whether prayers or songs of thanksgiving and praise or help and guidance through life’s challenges, Norma took it to the Lord in prayer. She prayed with her family, but she also spent a great deal of time praying by herself. She had many things she took to the Lord.
Norma loved music. She played piano, organ, and accordion proficiently, she loved to sing, dance, and listen to all kinds of music. In the car, she loved to listen to a good CD and would often say, “Play that again.” She was a wonderful co-pilot on trips to see family and friends.
Norma is survived by her loving husband, Ray; her children: Lyle (Tracy) Karasch of Sauk Centre, their daughters, Katey Karasch and Josie (fiance’ Chad Schaefer) Karasch, Victoria (Bradly) Becker and Melissa (Dylan) Carpenter; Kimberly Flowers-Wink (Bryan Wink) of Alexandria, her children Max (Courtny) Flowers, AJ Flowers and Grace Wink; Daryl (Sheila) Karasch of Sauk Centre, their children Daniel (fiancé Bridget), Dereck (Samantha), Haley Struss and Grant Struss; and Mick (Deb) Karasch and Amanda Karasch (Andy) Myers and Amanda (Stephan) Hafften. She is survived by 13 great grandchildren with one on the way; brothers and sisters, Dave (Sharon) Gamradt, Allen (Judy) Gamradt, Linda Kohorst, Sandra (Tom) Zehrer, Julie (Randy) Gamradt Reuter, Jim (Brenda) Gamradt, Mike (Boni) Gamradt and many loving nieces and nephews. She was preceded in death by her parents, Gerhard and Edith Gamradt; infant brother, Gary Gamradt; infant great granddaughter, Kinsley; and brother-in-law, Jim Kohorst.
Serving at Mass will be her grandchildren. As Casket Bearers: Daniel, Dereck, Katey, Josie Karasch and Max and AJ Flowers; Cross Bearer, Amanda Karasch Myers and Scripture Bearer, Grace Wink. Honorary Pallbearers will be: Marian Walter, JoAnn Voller, Janet Jennissen, Froni and Leander Moritz, Roger Schwinghammer, Donny and Linda Christian, and Alan Nathe.
In many ways, Norma was larger than life to all who knew her. She was smart, talented, creative, strong, loving, hard-working, stubborn (which she was proud of), thrifty, quick witted and sometimes, lovingly blunt. She will be mourned and missed by all that knew and loved her.
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