Norma M. Denlinger, a long-time Dubuque civic leader, whose no-nonsense manner surrounded a tender heart, died December 19, 2019 with her loving family by her side. She was 91 years old.
Funeral services will be held on January 3, 2020 at 10:00 a.m. at St. Patrick’s Church with a visitation from 9:00-9:45 a.m. A celebration of Norma’s life will be held on January 4, 2020 from 1:00-5:00 p.m. at the Grand River Center River Room, where the family will welcome visitors.
Norma was born in St. Louis, MO on April 19,1928, the only child of Edward J. and Hilda F. (Scheyer) Mulligan. Although Norma was an only child, she had 9 first cousins, on her maternal side, who were like siblings to her. When Norma was two, the family moved to Dubuque, where she attended St. Columbkille’s School from Kindergarten through 12thgrade. She excelled at many things from academics to basketball. She received a scholarship from Clarke University and attended one year. She left university to marry her sweet-heart and best friend, Virgil J. Denlinger. Norma married Virgil on Oct. 15,1949 at Nativity Church in Dubuque.They were married for 54 years until Virgil passed away in 2003.
Her first full-time job was as an assistant to the personnel director at Dubuque Packing Co. Later, Norma and Virgil established Denlinger Insurance Agency and ran it for more than 50 years.The office was inside their home on Clarke Drive for most of those years, where they also built an upstairs apartment for Norma’s parents.
Norma was known as “Mully” to her school chums, most of whom she kept throughout life. She was blessed with a keen intellect, which she willingly shared with family, friends, and the community. She was also born with an unselfish spirit and a desire to help those in need. Those who knew her say she exemplified the finer things of the human spirit — equality, compassion, honesty, and fairness. Norma was a great listener and many sought her wisdom. Her wry sense of humor and playfulness often made folks chuckle and lightened many hearts throughout her life.
Countless organizations and individuals in Dubuque received Norma’s time, talent, insight, and resources. Her assistance ranged from quiet, behind-the-scenes endeavors to leadership of some of the community’s most prominent organizations, including the United Way, Dubuque Racing Association, Boy’s and Girl’s Club, Bridges out of Poverty, Community Foundation, Arboretum, Two by Two, Bell Tower Theater, NICC, NISOM, and many others. Norma was also very generous with her financial resources and many more non-profits and individuals received financial help from her. Preserving the environment and and protecting it for future generations were also very dear to her heart.
Her civic roles never precluded Norma from devoting time to her family, friends, and neighbors. When her children’s Cub Scout dens and Girl Scout troops needed a leader, she volunteered. When neighborhood kids suffered scrapes and more serious injuries, their parents often sought out “Dr. Denlinger”, as she was affectionately known in the neighborhood. When her children’s school, St. Patrick’s, started a baseball team, Norma sewed the uniforms, and kept score. She found time to attend many of her children’s and grandchildren’s athletic games and extracurricular activities, help with homework, and take her grandkids on educational “field trips”. There was also always room at her kitchen table and in her yard for kids needing a place to feel at home. People often asked her how she found time to do so much, her response was simple, “I don’t have any more hours in the day than anyone else, it is simply a matter of how you establish your priorities”.
She also had many interests and talents. Norma was an avid reader, a good musician, playing the piano and violin, dancing, sewing, knitting, and basket weaving. She also loved swimming (especially in the Mississippi),crosswords,traveling, and meeting folks from all backgrounds. She saw many countries throughout her life.
Norma’s motto was: to give is to receive. Her family feels so blessed to have had her in their lives and to have shared her with so many others.
Norma is survived by her four children: James E. (Susan) Denlinger of Dubuque; Lynn M. Denlinger of Anchorage, AK; Thomas A. (Tina) Denlinger of Cuba City, WI.; and William J. (Carol) Denlinger of Coral Springs, FL.
She is also survived by seven grandchildren, Jason (Berta) Denlinger, Julie (Shane) Bakey, Trent and Theo Denlinger, Ava and Aiden Denlinger, Adam Henderson; and three great grandchildren, Kael and Madelyn Bakey, and Emmett Ribeiro Denlinger.
The family would like to thank the daily caregivers that loved and cared for Norma and Hospice of Dubuque.
In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the Virgil J. and Norma M. Denlinger Family Foundation at the Community Foundation of Greater Dubuque (CFGD), 700 Locust St., Suite 195, Dubuque, IA, 52001. Norma created the fund as a way to contribute perpetually to the pressing causes in the Dubuque Community.