It is with sadness that the family of our incredibly loving Teresa Helena Norris announces her peaceful passing at home with members at her side, on January 3, 2024.
Teresa was born in San Pedro, CA in August 1954, to Sophie and Frank Norris, both Polish-Americans. "Teri" grew up in Sun Valley and attended Verdugo Hills HS, where her intelligence, cheerful smile, and rosy cheeks attracted the attention of her husband, Tom Somers. Tom and Teresa were members of the Poetry Club at VHHS, but Tom insists it was the long bus ride home together after a field trip to the Huntington Library that left him enchanted! Tom and Teresa reunited on the dance floor at their 31st high school reunion and married in the summer of 2005.
Teresa was a "head held high" woman, "always with a smile on her face," and she cared deeply for her family, her community and the planet. Teresa studied chemistry at UCSD where she also enjoyed rock climbing and folk dancing. She obtained her master's degree at USC Extension in San Diego while working as a Facilities Engineer/Program Manager at General Dynamics. Among the few female engineers in San Diego at this time, Teresa was noted for her team building and communication skills. She put these talents to good use during the tense Cruise Missile technology transfer from GD to McDonnell Douglas.
Pivoting away from missile development, she followed her heart into early childhood education. Teresa earned a specialist degree in Early Ed and taught preschoolers and later supervised programs over the next 17 years. She was an effective administrator and mentor at Sheridan Way and Mound schools in Ventura.
Teresa followed her passion for the outdoors to next become office manager for the nonprofit Santa Monica Mountains (National Park) Fund, called SAMO. There she enjoyed working with noted wildlife biologists, as well as supporting all the other N.P. programs for these special nearby mountains.
Our Teresa loved the dramatic vistas of the eastern Sierra Nevada mountains with their challenging terrain, blue lakes, chilly morning air, warm afternoon sunshine on the meadow flowers dominated by snow-covered peaks and immense starry skies. She felt embraced by the remote light of the universe on this remarkable home called Earth.
"Going to the mountains is going home." - John Muir -
You will find this quote on a bronze plaque affixed to her memorial boulder bench at the Wheeler Gorge Visitor Center, courtesy of her hiking brethren and CalTrans.
Teresa's passion for hiking fed her soul. She 'section-hiked' the Pacific Crest Trail for 20 years: north from the Mexican border, a total of 1,650 miles across deserts and snowy mountain passes to Lassen National Park.
When Teresa discovered there was no Wilderness Basics Course (WBC) offered locally, she recruited friends and organized classes and hikes to share her joy. Over the last 15 years, Teresa chaired the WBC-Ventura Chapter of the Sierra Club, and helped train almost 500 adventurers; a testimony to her commitment to the cause. Through her charismatic leadership, she assembled a large community of WBC volunteers. Teresa loved sharing her passion and especially enjoyed bringing her husband Tom, kids, grandkids and friends out into nature.
Teresa and Tom built their community in Fillmore around their neighbors on 3rd Street and the Bardsdale United Methodist Church, along with a sorority of women known as PEO-Providing Educational Opportunities to support local female youth.
Teresa was a warrior on the cancer battle lines and fought breast cancer in the 90's, and then again for the past 10 years. Tom feels blessed to have had so many extended years because of her stalwart approach to life. Thanks to cousin Ellen and sister Nanci for repeated fun and supportive visits. We gratefully salute a decade of generous care from Kaiser Permanente, all cancer research efforts, Los Robles Hospice Healthcare and the strength of your communal prayers and positive energy. She often said, "People who are prayed for do better."
Teresa dearly loved her husband, Tom Somers and her siblings: Nanci, Christina & Pete Norris; nephew Eric and nieces Madeline, Mia &s Emily. Her beautiful children and families include Llewellyn, Tom, Ebbett, Odella and Gregor Bullers; Verity, Brad & Wilder Hull; Hannah Somers & Anthony Peccerillo; Amanda, Kaitlyn, Larry, & Damien Gramata. She helped raise Marvin and Maurice Jones during their teen summers. Teresa grieved the recent passing of her well-loved son, Marc Gramata, of Mooresville, NC, aged 46.
To Teresa's marvelous helpers, and with a special shout out to our incredible caregiver/cuidadora, Rubicelia Abrego, and all the family supporters - Many Thanks!
Teresa's Farewell Benediction:
"I believe in an afterlife and I'm okay with dying. Tell people to love and forgive each other."