Norma L. Sabyan


Norma Laura Sabyan, recently turned 101, longtime resident of Crosby, MN and Superior, WI, passed away peacefully on Saturday, June 20, 2020 at Twin Ports Health Services in Superior, WI. She was born on May 24, 1919 in Aitkin, MN to Alice Mae and Karl Fann.

Norma married Gerald Sabyan on June 20, 1939. She heard that people from Crosby were going to Liberia, West Africa to work in the iron mines. She encouraged Gerald to inquire about working there so they could live as a family. After Gerald was established in a job, in 1957, Norma packed up the household and took Michael (then 10) and Kathleen (then 8) on an “adventure of a lifetime”. They lived, worked and went to school at the mining camp in Bomi Hills, Liberia, West Africa, where they made many lifelong friends from all over the world. She spent seven years in Liberia. When the children needed to further their education, she sent them back to school in Crosby. After not seeing the children for two years, becoming homesick, she returned with her toddler, Geralyn, to Crosby, residing on Crosby Beach Road. She did not want to miss out on the children’s activities in school.

From that experience in Liberia, many wonderful stories and memories were and continue to be told. One story in particular was the time when Norma killed a snake in the house with the vacuum cleaner attachment. When Gerald retired and returned to Crosby, they would travel to Florida during the winter months in their Winnebago to visit family. Their beloved dog, Nenu, would travel along with them. After the passing of her husband in 1989, Norma moved to Cartersville, GA to be closer to her daughter, where she resided for twenty-five years. In addition, she traveled routinely between Georgia, Walla Walla, WA and Superior, WI to be with family. One particular trip Norma thoroughly enjoyed was her solo train ride from Spokane, WA to Minneapolis, MN.

She was a woman who loved being in the woods and would go deer hunting, berry picking, fishing and gathering wild mushrooms with her husband. Norma and Gerald loved to dance; can you picture a 5 ft. tall woman dancing with a 6 ft. 3 inch tall man? Norma was a domestic engineer and loved her job raising her children and also loved her time spent working in the kitchen at St. Joseph Catholic Church during various parish functions. She was a member of the drum and bugle corps where she played the snare drum and loved every minute showing off her talent. Norma was an avid reader and spent many hours sitting and diving into her stories. She had bookcases full of books and would often forget that she had already read the book halfway through and would start laughing. She loved tea and cookie time with her family.

About six years ago, she hung her hat in Superior, WI with her son and daughter-in-law. As her health declined, she moved into Stardusk Assisting Living and then transitioned to Twin Ports Health Services where she was lovingly cared for by nurse Shelley and her staff until the time of her death. Norma was a loving mother, grandmother, great-grandmother, great great-grandmother and auntie. She is now in the loving arms of Jesus.

She is preceded in death by her parents, three sisters, husband Gerald, sons, Victor and David, daughter Geralyn and great-grandson Jesse.

Norma is survived by her son, Michael (Christine) Sabyan; daughter, Kathleen (Gay) Johnson; grandchildren, Vickie Sabyan-Tyge, Sheri Sabyan Riehl, Randy and David Sabyan, Dana Donkers, Lisa (Christian) Spickler, Amy Buchanan, Tom (Karin) Sabyan, Betheny and Eric (Rachel) Johnson, Christina Kavanaugh, Michael (Danielle) Woodcock and Amanda (Stuart) Harakal and many great-grandchildren and great great-grandchildren.

A Celebration of Life is being held next summer in 2021.

The Downs-LeSage Funeral Home, 1304 Hammond Avenue, Superior is assisting the family with arrangements. To leave an online condolence or to sign the guestbook, please visit

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