Norris Tibbetts

August 12, 1921 โ€” October 22, 2022

Long-time member Norris Tibbetts passed on October 22, 2022, at the age of 101. He advised First Congregational’s high school youth group, then known as Sigma Nu Kappa, for a dozen years. When he stepped down from that position on June 5, 1968, he was presented with a plaque stating:

In recognition of outstanding service to youth, Norris Tibbetts, singer of songs, inspirer of the young and not-so-young, seeker after justice, planner of journeys, paddler extraordinary, enthusiast for life, we honor you.

As advisor to Sigma Nu Kappa for twelve years you have contributed richly to young lives with insight, wit and devotion. Your second-mile concern for youth has brought strength to all our hearts. For your signal contribution to the worldโ€™s future, we thank you.

It was signed by moderator Harry Hamilton and four ministers: Lawrence L. Gruman, Edward E. Beatty, Alfred W. Swan, and Elsie V. Kline.

He is remembered on the University of Wisconsin-Madison School for Workers website.

A full obituary for Norris can be found on the Wisconsin State Journal websi

Tributes and Remembrances

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6 entries.
Margaret Irwin Margaret Irwin wrote on May 27, 2023 at 5:41 pm
Dear Mary, Ellen, Steve, and Dorothy,

Itโ€™s hard to put into words, but Norris has been one of the most impactful people in my life. Just at the time when, as a teen, I was searching to discover who I was and what I was here for, Norris provided activities in Sigma Nu as well as his presence as a good listener and a caring man to support my search, and these have stayed with me ever since. Through our leadership planning retreats, he helped me develop abilities I have continued to use. He provided means to show interest and caring for people on the margins. I especially remember a skating party with the girls from the Oregon school โ€“ girls who had lost their way; exchange visits with the children at the Indian School in Neillsville; and pooling our resources to sponsor a child in the developing world. My passion for social justice developed in Sigma Nu and is with me still. There were also opportunities to discuss important issues of the day with guest speakers. And, of course, there were lots of times to just eat spaghetti casseroles and jello โ€œsaladsโ€, fool around, and sing along with his guitar.

Norris told me several times in later years that he had lost his faith. I donโ€™t know quite what he meant by that, but I know that he helped my faith to grow. And because he was non-judgmental in his approach to the religious life, he gave me implicit permission to follow my own path to the Episcopal Church and eventually to the priesthood.

I loved your dad, and your mom, too. You are blessed to have had such wonderful parents, and I am blessed to have known them. May you feel strengthened and comforted by memories you cherish of them.

Margaret (Margy) Ehrensperger Irwin
Class of 1960
Peggy Ahlgren Peggy Ahlgren from wrote on May 26, 2023 at 10:41 am
In talking with classmates there is a wide range of opinions on how many people in our class were involved with church youth groups.
The percentages range from 20-75%. Probably 35-40 of my 1961 classmates attended Sigma Nu at one time or another.
Norris was the glue that held the group together. He provided the framework and without our awareness helped facilitate the many activities that we were involved in.
Gale Wolf, as youth minister, helped provide an environment where everyone was included. With committees of Faith, Fellowship and Action we learned about life, helping others and having fun in a group of sophomores, juniors and seniors. We were caring. It was something special. We might have sung Johnny Appleseed or Clark's Super Gasoline for grace before Sunday night potluck suppers, but as a group we enjoyed doing things together. It seems there was a place for everyone.
I have so many memories: retreats at Green Lake, crowning Gilbert as May King, raking lawns on our Workdays for Christ, baking cookies for a bake sale to help raise money to support Pak Kyung Soon, Christmas caroling, Agape dinners, New Year's Eve Eve parties, talks by University professors, all of us crowding into the fellowship room (and a few endless questions), skipping the short worship services, etc, etc.
I do remember with humility writing down program suggestions during a retreat at Devil's Lake. Someone called out a suggestion and I wrote down "Youth in Asia." The request was "Euthanasia". Oh well..... I still make the same kind or errors.
We will all remember the songs - Norris on the guitar and Gale on the bass - songs and more songs. Occasionally they still run through my mind ......"it was sad Lord sad, it was sad, it was sad when the great ship went down............. he'll ride forever 'neath the streets of Boston.......or jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton.........
So many memories tucked away for so many years ago. We are all better people from having Norris in our lives. He will not be forgotten.
(Lynne) Morgan Fishel Barry (Lynne) Morgan Fishel Barry wrote on May 20, 2023 at 7:24 pm
What a gift it is, to remember Norris. Actually, I called him "Tibs" and maybe we all did, I don't remember now. But oh, the memories that come to mind fill my heart. He really contributed so much to my life, especially during those teenage years. What a warm, caring, funny teacher and friend he was. There's one memory I treasure and it makes laugh every time I think of him. As an emotional teen, life was either grand or terrible, and one Sunday evening, Tibs was driving me home from Sigma Nu. When I was the last one in the car with him, I bust into tears and shared whatever was breaking my heart at the moment. He listened for a few minutes, then asked "Have you ever seen my Marilyn Monroe imitation?" I had not, and he began to demonstrate. I just started laughing, and completely forgot my tears. To this day, remembering Tib's "Marilyn" makes me laugh - and appreciate once again what a gift of kindness, caring, humor, music, friendship he offered me and so many others. Thanks for the opportunity to write about Tibs!
What a gift it is, to remember Norris. Actually, I called him "Tib's" and maybe we all did, I don't remember now. But oh, the memories that come to mind What a gift it is, to remember Norris. Actually, I called him "Tib's" and maybe we all did, I don't remember now. But oh, the memories that come to mind wrote on May 20, 2023 at 6:24 pm
from Alice Cappon Clark from Alice Cappon Clark wrote on May 19, 2023 at 12:20 pm
On the occasion of Norris's 100th birthday, Aug 12, 2021, I wanted to thank him for all he did to make Sigma Nu such an important, meaningful part of my life, 1965 -1968. The letter I sent him is below.

For August 12, 2021

Dear Norris,
Even during periods that are relatively peaceful politically, teenage years can be emotionally challenging. Political turmoil also impacted mine. All these occurred during my SNK years: Selmaโ€™s Bloody Sunday, the 1967 race riots, ML Kingโ€™s, Bobby Kennedyโ€™s and Malcolm Xโ€™s assassinations, increases in US troop levels in Viet Nam and the anti-war protests. It was a chaotic, sometimes very scary period. For me, SNK was all these at once: informative, mentally, spiritually, and ethically thought-provoking, joyously fun and an emotional haven. I felt safe there. Known and valued for who I was (very important at any age but especially for a teenager). Capable of solving problems. Connected -- a part of a loving community. I dreaded going to my last SNK meetings because I just didnโ€™t want it to end. Thank you for making SNK so enriching and soul-sustaining. Much gratitude and love to you - Alice
Lee Fishel Fertitta Lee Fishel Fertitta wrote on May 15, 2023 at 7:39 am
The Tibbetts lived across from us on Veblen Place. Our families gathered for many holiday evening sing-a-longs, leftovers and laughter. Their first granddaughter, Phoebe, is about the same age as my daughter Stefanie and when the girls were about 9 months old, we were visiting them. Norris took them both, put them on the floor and lay down in front of them. He proceeded to teach them how to make raspberries (Bronx cheers, for you New Yorkers), much to their - and his - delight. It's a memory I cherish, though not so much the ensuing meals of mashed peas and sweet potatoes I had to clean up!