Norma Jean Donelson Ragar Smyser, 87, Palmyra, Mo., passed peacefully into the arms of Jesus on Saturday, Oct.7, 2023, surrounded by her family at home in Palmyra.
Norma was born on Jan. 20, 1936 to Ralph and Goldie Donelson in Palmyra. She graduated from Palmyra High School in 1954. Norma married her first husband, Melvin Ragar, on Aug. 8, 1954 in Palmyra. He preceded her in death on Aug. 16, 1964.
She married Randy Smyser on July 12, 1966, in Palmyra, and they spent 57 plus years happily married, playing and raising their family.
Norma was a life-long committed member of First Presbyterian Church in Palmyra, serving in many capacities including as a deacon and elder. She was well known for her singing voice and for singing solo’s at church. Three of her favorite songs to sing were “Amazing Grace,” “How Great Thou Art” and “In the Garden.”
Norma is survived by her husband, Randy Smyser; five children, Terrie Buckwalter (David), Mark Ragar (Sherri), Marty Smyser (Mary), Kevin Smyser (Kelly) and Kyle Smyser (Teresa), all of Palmyra; one brother, Harlo Donelson, Memphis, Mo.; one sister, Sally Bird, Crystal Lake, Ill.; 18 grandchildren, Alan Buckwalter (Sahrene), Lucas Buckwalter (Amy), Jacob Buckwalter (Nicki), Jessica Wolter (Chris), Mark Wyatt Ragar (Korrie), Bethany Armentrout (Dalton), Jordan Bowman (Jason), Madison Keller (Bazil), Marty Joe Smyser II (Sabrina), Rachel Luckett (Steven), Matthew Smyser (Caitlin), Morgan Hopper (Dustin), Makenzie Manus (Steven), Joshua Wendt (Lauren), Lindsay Lieurance (Aaron), Alex Smyser (Jazzmen Tournear) and Sidney Smyser (Shane Williams); 33 great-grandchildren, Elizabeth Buckwalter, Ada Buckwalter, Blake Buckwalter, Drew Buckwalter, Hallie Buckwalter, Crew Buckwalter, Leo Wolter, Patre Ragar, Maxwell Ragar, Parker Ragar, Charlie Ragar, Andi Ragar, Hattie Armentrout, Hayes Armentrout, Harlow Armentrout, Marty Joe Smyser III, Abram Smyser, Lola Smyser, Josiah Smyser, Aubriana Luckett, Sophia Luckett, Madilyn Luckett, Mathias Luckett, Emma Luckett, Kenlie Manus, Maisie Manus, Bennett Hopper, Collins Smyser, Alaina Wendt, Mason Wendt, Waylon Lieurance and coming soon, Baby Lieurance.
She was preceded in death by her first husband, Melvin Ragar; parents, Ralph and Goldie Donelson; grandparents; one grandson, Nicholas Smyser; one great-grandson, Erik Bowman; and many extended family members and close friends.
When a person looks up the word “matriarch” in the dictionary, you would see “an older woman who is powerful within a family or organization” or “a woman who is the head of a family or tribe,” and although those are both true, it cannot even begin to describe Norma. This beautiful and classy woman, brought together and created a tribe of her own.
Her family meant the world to her, and she made sure to nurture them in any way she could. Norma was a fantastic cook, and even better homemaker; dinner was always on the table every night, even after the busiest of work days. She relished attending school and sporting events to support her children and grandchildren.
Norma had a heart of gold, taking care of her family and community were important. She would quietly seek out people who might need a hand or just to give them a rose to brighten their day.
Norma and Randy founded and created Northeast Missouri Machine and Pattern. They worked together to build a solid company that is going strong to this day. Over the years they received the Business Hall of Fame and Citizens of the year awards.
She was very active in the Chamber of Commerce, and as a member of the Marion County Fair board, she brought in talent, such as, John Michael Montgomery, Toby Keith and Neil McCoy, to our little community. She was a Stanley Homes Products top salesperson.
Funeral services will be held at 10 a.m., Thursday, Oct.12, at the First Presbyterian Church in Palmyra. Pastor Marty Smyser I and Pastor Marty Joe Smyser II will officiate. Burial will follow at Greenwood Cemetery in Palmyra.
Pallbearers will be Terrie Buckwalter, Mark Ragar, Marty Smyser, Kevin Smyser and Kyle Smyser.
Honorary pallbearers will be her grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
Friends and family are invited to Norma’s Life Celebration and visitation being held from 4 to 7 p.m., Wednesday, Oct. 11, at Lewis Brothers Funeral Chapel in Palmyra.
Memorials may be made to the First Presbyterian Church in Palmyra.
Online condolences may be shared, and video tribute may be viewed, at www.LewisBrothersFuneralChapel.com.