Norma M. Lensing, 87
Norma M. Lensing, age 87 of Protivin, died Monday, Oct. 4, 2021, at Regional Health Services in Cresco.
A Mass of Christian Burial was held at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 7, 2021, at Holy Trinity Catholic Church in Protivin with the Rev. Nick Radloff celebrating the Mass.
Interment was held at Holy Trinity Catholic Church Cemetery, Protivin, with Jeff Korsmo, Austin Reicks, Sharon Holt, Paula Ryan, Rich Dreckman, and Kyle Dreckman serving as pallbearers. Honorary pallbearers were Marcia Sands, Carol Korsmo, Donna Vsetecka, Jennifer Hart, and Chelsey Dreckman.
Friends greeted the family from 10 to 11:30 a.m. prior to the Mass at the church in Protivin.
Norma was born on Oct. 25, 1933, to Fred and Frances (Strnad) Taylor on the family’s farm, and she was the third child of the couple’s four children. Growing up, Norma helped her parents with farm chores, attended school, and was a standout basketball player — starting on the varsity team as an eighth-grader.
In that era, however, farm children often were needed on the farm, and despite pleas from her basketball coach to her parents to allow her to stay in school, Norma was needed for the “threshing crew” but she did study for her high school graduation test and received her diploma at the age of 17.
One night, she and friends attended a dance at the Inwood Ballroom in Spillville, and it was there that she met the man of her dreams — a young Lawler lad named Don Lensing — and the two were married on Nov. 8, 1950, at St. Wenceslaus Church in Spillville, and the daylong celebration, Norma would tell you years later, included jello and cake.
That day began a marvelous marriage that lasted 70 years.
When Don enlisted in the U.S. Army in 1951, Norma took the train to Fort Campbell, Kentucky, so the young couple could be together, and when Don got out of the Army the Lensings moved back to Iowa and farmed near Little Turkey.
Their family grew to include four children — Mike, Dave, Diane, and Mary — and the Lensing kids remember growing up with a mother who was a great cook, a loving wife to her husband, and a mother who believed that the family should always sit together at the supper table.
Norma was proud to raise four fine children, and she and Don loved to go dancing, camping, and bullhead fishing — spending many a day on Lake Sakatah near Waterville, Minnesota.
She was one of the first hires made when Sara Lee opened its New Hampton bakery and also worked as a cook at Turkey Valley schools for four years. In 1985, Norma and Don built and opened “The Mint,” a popular bar and restaurant in Protivin they operated for 9 ½ years. Wednesday nights were “chicken night” at the restaurant, and often, Norma and Don fed more than 350 people in a single evening.
The Lensings loved to travel — they were the kind of couple that wasn’t afraid to just get up and go — and Norma visited almost all of the 50 states. She had a zest for life, one that never waned.
She was a loving grandmother to 10 grandchildren and 17 great-grandchildren and a remarkable role model — especially when it came to her faith — to them.
She was a longtime member of Holy Trinity Church in Protivin and a member of the Rosary Society; in fact, she said the Rosary prayer every single day. Norma was also a huge supporter of her husband, who served on Protivin’s City Council and was the town’s mayor for 10 years.
Norma received her 50-year pin from the American Legion Auxiliary in Protivin and was proud of not only her husband but all those who served our country.
She spent her life feeding people; one simply did not leave the Lensing home with an empty stomach, and her devout faith carried her through both the good and bad times.
Although her family will miss her dearly, they also know that faith means she is reunited with Don and they are back doing everything together, just as they did for 70 years here on Earth.
Norma is survived by two sons, Michael (Theresa) Lensing of Protivin, and David Lensing (special friend Sharon Holt) of Harpers Ferry; two daughters, Diane Reicks of Lawler, and Mary (Rich) Dreckman of Harpers Ferry; 10 grandchildren, 17 great-grandchildren; one brother, Alvin Taylor of Cresco; one sister Kay (Joe) Schmitt of Florida; one brother-in-law, Clair (Mary) Lensing of Marion; and one sister-in-law, Irene Lensing of Lawler.
She was preceded in death by her parents; her husband, Donald, in 2020; one sister, Marcella Svestka; one son-in-law, Roger Reicks; and one great-grandson, Matthew Vsetecka.