FIRST DAY – Baranof Elementary School paraprofessional Brooke Rivera helps kindergartner Andrei Kyrie Joaquin find his class as children line up for school this morning. Today was the first day of school for a third of the kindergarten class, which was divided into three groups. The final group of kindergartners begins school Monday. (Sentinel Photo by James Poulson)

Norma Lenore Malpus

Norma Lenore Malpus

Longtime Sitka resident Norma Lenore Malpus passed away quietly in Palmer on Dec. 26, 2016, surrounded by family. She was 96.

Norma was born Oct. 12, 1920, in Orting, Wash., the youngest of three daughters of Lorenzo D. Borden and Lottie Beesler.

When Norma was a young girl her mother passed away, and the sisters were placed in the care of their great aunt. Once in high school, in Sumner, Wash., Norma began to live independently, doing chores and odd jobs after school to pay for her room and board. Later, she would often say she lived from “pillar to post” as a young person.

She loved to sing, dance, and act, and was voted the “Next Ginger Rogers” in her high school yearbook. After graduating from Sumner High in 1938 she worked in Seattle as a uniformed elevator operator, a secretary, and a bookkeeper. She worked at the CB Van Vorst Mattress Company for almost 16 years, starting out as seamstress and working her way up to floor manager.

From 1942 to 1961, Norma was married to Loyal Giefer. They had two sons, Daniel Joseph, born 1946, and Jeffry Lynn, born 1955. 

On March 9, 1962, she married retired Naval LCDR Kenneth Cole Malpus. Ken and Norma became a blended family, Norma with her two sons Dan and Jeff, and Ken with his daughter Charlotte. The new family made their home in Bellevue, Wash.

In June 1964, the family moved to Sitka, where Ken was hired by Samson Tug & Barge as a tugboat skipper. Their son Kenneth Lee Malpus was born a couple of months later, in August.

Throughout her life, Norma was known for her spunk, determination, and her sense of humor. She loved to cook for her family and there are many fond memories of her cooking up amazing Chinese food, wild game, and a batches of smelt, clams, or any variety of seafood that made its way into her home.

As Ken spent a good deal of time out on the tugboats, raising their family fell to Norma. During that time, she also worked full-time at several places around Sitka, including as a florist at  Random House and as a waitress and cook at Revard’s restaurant. 

One of her favorite activities was being involved with the Emblem Club. She loved the opportunities to get dressed up for formals like the Purple Bubble Ball, the Hat Parade, and many other events. She was a regular at the taco booth during the 4th of July celebration, and even took a turn or two in the dunk tank. She spent many hours volunteering and cooking for events, and served as the president of the Emblem Club from 1969 to 1970. 

When she was in her 80s she volunteered at the Senior Center helping elders (some of them younger than she was!), waiting tables, cooking, and driving the Meals on Wheels van when necessary. When people marveled that she was working at such an age she would reply that she “wasn’t old.”

Norma moved away from Sitka when age finally caught up with her in her 90s. She moved to Anchorage to live with Charlotte and her family for several years before moving to the Palmer Veterans and Pioneer Home. Her strong will and independent nature made her a hit with the residents and staff, and though she was slowing down physically she never lost her strong mind and tenacious will.

Norma was proceeded in death by her husband, LCDR Kenneth C. Malpus; sisters Vivian Emery and Cledia Warnecke; and nephew Clinton Buckmaster.

She leaves behind her children Daniel (Katie) Giefer of Renton, Wash., Jeff (Patti) Giefer of Springdale, Wash., Charlotte (Craig) Mitchell of Anchorage, and Ken (Jill) Malpus of Emerald Lake Hills, Calif.

Also surviving are grandchildren Nicholas Giefer, Darrin Giefer, Michelle (Andrew) Sensabaugh, and Morgan Mitchell; nephews Ted (Nancy) Buckmaster and Tim (Stacey) Buckmaster; niece Christine Rogers; nine great-grandchildren; and a great-great-grandchild.


A brief service will be held noon May 8, at Sitka National Cemetery. A reception will follow at the Elks Lodge.

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