Obituary: Norman Henry Queram
Norman Henry Queram, one of the original Navy SEALs, died Sunday, May 5, 2019, in Evansville, Wis. He was 95.
Norman was born in Manitowoc in 1924, the fifth of six children. His father died six weeks after his younger brother was born and his mother, somehow, raised the children alone. All four boys—Elmer, John, Norman and Russell—joined the military and deployed to fight in World War II. All four came home. Norman enlisted in the U.S. Navy and was sent to the Naval Construction Training Center in Virginia, then to the U.S. Naval Amphibious Training Base in Ft. Pierce, Fla. He became a member of Underwater Demolition Team 5, a frogman who helped destroy underwater infrastructure to clear pathways for invading soldiers. He served in the Pacific, earning the Philippine Liberation Medal with a Bronze Star for his participation in freeing the islands.
Norman received an honorable discharge from the U.S. Navy on Dec. 23, 1945. When he returned to Wisconsin, he enrolled at the Wisconsin State University campus in Stevens Point. In geography class he sat behind a girl named Molly Lampert, and they dated for two months before eloping. (“Let’s go to Dubuque,” he kept saying, knowing there was no wait there for a marriage license.) At the time of his death, they had been married for 67 years.
After graduating from college, Norman worked as a salesman at JCPenney and then as a land surveyor for his father-in-law before beginning his career managing track operations for the Soo Line Railroad. A series of promotions took him and Molly to the Upper Peninsula of Michigan, where they lived on a bluff overlooking the golf course (during this time family referred to Norman as “the king of the U.P.”). They had their own golf cart and would spend Friday nights on the course with cocktails. Eventually the Soo Line transferred Norman back to Stevens Point and he and Molly lived there until 2012, when they moved to Stoughton.
Norman loved to golf. In his lifetime he notched three holes-in-one but was quick to clarify that only two were “official,” meaning there were at least two observers (the third happened when he was playing alone, and so it counted, but also it didn’t). His hero was Arnold Palmer and he kept an autographed poster of the famous golfer in his bedroom. As Norman grew older and his vision worsened, Molly would accompany him to the golf course to help keep track of his ball. He finally stopped golfing last fall after injuring his shoulder; Molly was there, helping him find the shot.
He liked peanuts, vodka martinis, John Wayne movies and root beer floats. He smelled like Old Spice and cedar and favored cashmere sweaters. He had trouble sitting still and liked to putter around the yard and the garage. He could fix anything. He was an accomplished gardener and was unbeatable in trivia if the category was geography, but made his own spelling rules when completing his daily crossword puzzle. He was a proud, principled, dignified man. He tended toward pessimism—Molly affectionately referred to him as “Captain Gloomy”—but he was also sweet and kind, particularly with his nephews and nieces and grandchildren. We were all so lucky to have had him for so long.
He is survived by his wife, Molly Ann; his sons, Christopher (Sandra) and Stephen (Donna); his grandchildren, Kate (Brandon), Matthew (Evelyn) and Laura (Cory); and his great-grandchildren, Annabella, Piper and Harrison. Norman was also especially close with his niece, Amy (Paul) Schley and Sandra’s three children, Alexa (Josh), Blair, and Nicholas (Anna) Van Brunt. He was preceded in death by his brothers, Elmer, John and Russell; his sisters, Grace and Edith (Petie), and his parents, Anna and Albert.
There will be a celebration of Norman’s life for family and friends at a date later in the year.
The family would like to extend its heartfelt thanks for the compassionate and attentive care that Norman received from the team of dedicated professionals at the William S. Middleton Veterans Administration Hospital in Madison, and most especially Erinn Mullan, NP.
Online condolences may be made at www.gundersonfh.com