Leola Norman McBride passed from this life to her heavenly reward on October 30, 2023, at the age of 91. She was born January 8, 1932, in Sharyland, TX. She grew up in Weslaco, Texas, the oldest of 6 children of Leo Delbert and Edna Grace Cawiezel Norman. Growing up she played the piano and organ at her local Catholic church. She attended the University of Texas and received her bachelor’s degree in Personnel Management. While at The University, she met the love of her life, Jim McBride – both were active in the Newman Club. They married September 5, 1953. The family settled in Dickinson, TX in 1965.
From the start of their life in Dickinson, they involved their family at the Shrine of the True Catholic Church. Leola was a member of the Women’s Club and well as many other volunteer activities at the church and school over the years.
Leola had an active social life – she never met a stranger! She loved her family. Her daughters still look to the life she and Jim lived as a model for how they live their own lives, involving themselves in many social and volunteer endeavors of their own. Leola and Jim were active in dance clubs, bowling leagues, loved costume parties (Leola made their costumes), dinner bridge clubs/parties, and just generally enjoying activities and outings with friends and family. Leola continued playing bridge her entire life. She volunteered at M.I. Lewis Service Center, The Grand 1895 Opera House in Galveston (volunteer of the year 2009), the Galveston County Visitor’s Center in La Marque, and for the annual Tours of Historic Homes in Galveston as a docent. She was awarded 2000 volunteer of the year for the North Galveston County Chamber of Commerce. Leola was a member of Keep Dickinson Beautiful, the Dickinson Historical Society, Dickinson Citizens Police Academy Alumni Association (DCPAAA- recognized for her longtime contributions in 2022), and the Fort Worth Procrastination Society (a group of Fort Worth family friends that gathered for a long weekend yearly for over 60 years).
Many Sundays while the girls were growing up were spent at the beach with daughters and friends. Jim worked at NASA and they enjoyed going to NASA splash down parties, NASA picnics and other NASA events. Leola and Jim travelled extensively enjoying camping, cruising, pilgrimages, and just simple relaxation. They took many cruises to Europe, Hawaii, Alaska, through the Panama Canal, as well as out of Galveston and along the eastern US.
Until the end she attended daily Mass, continued enjoying cruises with friends and family, played with several bridge groups, was a wiz on crossword puzzles, Jeopardy and Wheel of Fortune, and could be counted on to show up for Marais ‘Wine Night’ happy hour each Wednesday with her lady friends.
Leola was an excellent seamstress, making most of her daughters’ clothes as they grew up, as well as their wedding dresses and those of their bridesmaids. She also made her own wedding dress that she later turned into a cocktail dress. Leola started working at Dickinson High school as a substitute teacher in 1972, became the assistant principal’s secretary, and was the high school principal’s secretary for 18 years. She retired in 1994. Leola was known for her outstanding typing skills and typed (on a typewriter) many Seniors’ term papers. She took no payment for typing those papers but was often thanked with bottles of Chivas – it was the 70s.
Five weeks after her husband of 64 years lost his battle with cancer in 2017, hurricane Harvey hit and flooded her home. She rebounded and moved back into her freshly renovated home 8 months later.
Leola is predeceased by her parents, husband James McBride, sisters Dorothy (Ollie) Gray and Ruth (Bud) Saathoff, grandson Sean Gerstmann, son-in-law Gerald Gerstmann, brothers-in-law, sisters-in-law, and several friends. She is survived by her daughters Marilynn Gerstmann of Pearland; Kathleen McBride of Palm Beach Gardens, Florida; Sharon (Paul) Hardilek of Dickinson; and Joanie (Danny) Rincon of Crystal Beach, TX; grandson James (Julia) Gerstmann, granddaughters Paula (Rueben) Pena, Jamie Hardilek (Shawn), Amanda (Clayton) Collins, Sarah Hardilek, and Chloe (Wil) Van Dyke; great grandchildren Evelyn, Elizabeth, Zachary, Curtis, and Margaret, all of whom lovingly called her The Great One; siblings Ann (Rip) Ripkowski, Leo Jr. (Dorothy) Norman, and Velma Dukat, as well as many nieces and nephews.
Visitation with the family and praying of the rosary will be Monday, November 6, 5:00-7:00 p.m. at Crowder Funeral home in Dickinson (FM517/FM646). The Rite of Christian burial Mass will be held at Shrine of the True Cross Catholic Church, 300 FM 517 Rd. E, Dickinson, TX 77539, on Tuesday, November 7, 2023, at 10:30 a.m.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made in Leola’s name to Shrine of the True Cross Catholic Church, Keep Dickinson Beautiful, or the Dickinson Historical Society.