- About Us
Norman John Edward Roe went to heaven to join Mary Beth, the love of his life since 1946, on June 20, 2018, at age 96.
Norman was born on March 24, 1922 in Halliday, North Dakota, the oldest of 7 siblings. Both his maternal and paternal grandparents homesteaded in Western North Dakota. His maternal grandparents were Germans who immigrated from Russia, common at that time in that part of the state. Norman’s father was an automotive mechanic. He and his family lived in numerous towns in Western North Dakota, most notably Richardton, where he attended school at Assumption Abbey, and Antelope (current population 0).
Shortly after graduating high school in Mandan, ND, Norm and his family moved to Indiana. He enlisted in the Navy during World War II. He was stationed in Hawaii before being transferred to Lafayette, Indiana where he entered the Navy’s V-12 officer candidacy program at Purdue University. There he met and married Mary Beth Sutherlin, a local Lafayette girl, graduated college, and embarked on a long career in finance and insurance.
He joined Foremost Insurance Company in 1955, moving to Columbus Ohio, then to Grand Rapids in 1960. As Executive Vice President and Vice Chairman, he helped lead Foremost’s growth to become a large national publicly traded company. Along the way he obtained an MBA degree at Western Michigan University. In 1977, he left Foremost and acquired majority interest in Sebrite Corporation, a financial services company, serving as Chairman and President until the sale of that company in 1982. Afterward, Norman retired from full time employment and remained active in business, serving on boards of several companies, including Gainsco, an insurance company he helped take public, and Pacific Dataport, an Alaska-based telecom company founded by his son Jeff. Throughout his career, Norm recruited and guided many people that later became successful business executives. In later years, he enjoyed visiting with those people he had influenced with his example.
Norm enjoyed 36 years of blissful retirement. He and Mary Beth travelled extensively throughout the world, and maintained homes in Bellaire, MI and Phoenix, AZ. He devoted his retirement life to making Mary Beth happy, and since she passed in 2011, he turned his attention to others around him. For the past 7 years he provided “thoughts for the day” during the evening “social hour” gathering at Cook Valley Estates where he resided. He was also active in bridge and in “Scribblers Club” and was a cherished member of that community.
In 2008, Norman was inducted into the Michigan Insurance Hall of Fame. In his acceptance speech, he described himself.
“…. I am a child of God, a Christian, a member of the Roman Catholic faith. But I do firmly believe that if we had no tenet or doctrine other than the 10 Commandments and we all lived them, we would have a near perfect world.”
Norman had a very grateful heart. He thanked God several times a day for his wonderful wife, and for his parents and grandparents. He said they set great examples of Christian, moral people. He loved and enjoyed the company of all his siblings and their spouses. He loved his children, Jeff Roe (Karen), Genese Piggott (Joe), Kris Maurer (Mark) and Joe Roe (Denise) very much.
Norm wrote 85 monthly “Grandpa Letters” that are treasured possessions of his 9 grandchildren and 13 great grandchildren. His letters were sometimes congratulatory, sometimes soothing, always full of love.
As Norm’s light began to fade, he enjoyed the company and care of close family members, remaining calm and at peace, aided by his strong faith and the love he received from others. His was a life well-lived.
The Mass of Christian Burial will be held Monday 11:30am at St. Robert of Newminster Parish. The family will greet friends on Sunday from 3 to 5pm at the Metcalf & Jonkhoff Funeral Home and one hour prior to the service at church on Monday from 10:30 to 11:30am. Memorial contributions may be made to Emmanuel Hospice or St. Robert of Newminster Parish.
St. Robert of Newminster Parish
6477 Ada Dr., Ada MI 49301
2161 Leonard St. N.W., Grand Rapids MI 49504