NORMA J. MATTHIAS | Jan. 18, 1934 — Aug. 7, 2013

Polio survivor showed courage, strength

2013-08-22T00:00:00Z Polio survivor showed courage, strengthDiane Poulton Times Correspondent
August 22, 2013 12:00 am  • 

Stricken with polio at 8 years old, Norma Matthias never let being in a wheelchair stop her from living her life to the fullest and meeting its challenges.

Norma Matthias showed showed great courage, determination and strength throughout her life, daughter Debra Bickel said.

“Nothing ever stopped her,” Bickel said. “She did everything.”

Matthias re-learned to write and played baseball.

“She would hit the ball and someone would push her around the bases,” Bickel said. “She learned to can, iron and sweep.”

Undaunted by her physical limitations, Matthias attended the University of Illinois. There, she met her future husband, Kenneth, who also survived polio.

Matthias took care of three babies born within four years and later baby-sat her grandchildren, Bickel said. With weak arms, she used her teeth on their T-shirts to help lift them.

The Matthiases enjoyed talking to each other and their friends on a CB radio.

Matthias, 79, of Crown Point, was a secretary for Lambert Construction Co. 30 years. She met Dale Lambert at a self-improvement class where he was a presenter.

Her neighbors drove her to work until her husband, who died in 1992, bought her a red Plymouth outfitted with hand controls and a lift and taught her to drive. Bickel said getting in and out of the car was a lengthy, complicated process for her mom.

Matthias loved butterflies, decorating her home and room at a nursing home with them.

As we got out of our cars at the cemetery, there were butterflies everywhere,” Bickel said.

Bickel said she will miss her mother’s love.

“She would do anything for her kids, for anybody,” Bickel said. “She was there for me with everything I went through. It wasn’t about what she needed; it was about what everyone else needed.”

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