OGDENSBURG -- Norma Lucile Fortune (née Smith), 93, died early Wednesday morning, November 18 at United Helpers Rehabilitation and Senior Care, from complications of her 14 years with Alzheimer’s disease. Services will be held at a later date. Her ashes will be interred in North Hudson Cemetery.
Mrs. Fortune is survived by two daughters, The Rev. Jo Belser (Lenore Funkhouser) of Alexandria, Virginia and Deb Fortune of Troy, New York; five sons, Gregory Fortune (Denise) of Acworth, Georgia, David Fortune of Ogdensburg, Stephen Fortune (Valerie Evaniak-Fortune) of Ogdensburg, Daniel Fortune of Akron, Ohio and Douglas Fortune (Jennifer) of Ogdensburg; six grandchildren, Greg Fortune Jr., Joshua Fortune, Jennifer Fortune, Zeb Fortune, Seth Fortune, and Rheanne Fortune; and six great-grandchildren.
She was predeceased by her husband, The Rev. Bernard Fortune; and all of her eight siblings.
Mrs. Fortune was born on June 28, 1927 in Birmingham, Alabama, the daughter of Nathan Nathaniel and Stella (Royal) Smith. She graduated Shades Cahaba High School in 1945 and attended Central Wesleyan College in Central, South Carolina (now Southern Wesleyan University). She transferred to Marion College in Marion, Indiana (now Indiana Wesleyan University) where she earned her A.B. in 1950. She married Bernard Fortune on June 2, 1951 in Marion. She then attended SUNY Potsdam and SUNY Plattsburgh, graduating from the latter in 1970 with an M.S. Ed. She completed extensive additional study at various institutions throughout her teaching career.
Mrs. Fortune taught second grade in Hague, NY from 1962–72, and taught at Morristown Central School from 1972–87, primarily as a third grade teacher. Her specialty was in Reading.
Ever the Renaissance woman, she was more than proficient in many other endeavors. For years, she was a dedicated ham radio operator with the call letters KB2FTP. Tremors of disbelief amid smiles of satisfaction resonated through the Fortune household when she scored higher on her Morse Code exam than other members of her family.
Mrs. Fortune excelled at calligraphy, and her steady hand was responsible for many handsome award and graduation certificates in the Ogdensburg area and beyond. She honed her craft by writing out passages from the Bible early each morning, filling scores of notebooks.
In her early 50s, she began a long-lasting fitness streak which saw her climbing many of the Adirondack mountains—including three of the high peaks—often with her three youngest children or close friends. She began running and completed many races, marathons, and a triathlon. She was an avid walker and biker, particularly enjoying daily walks around Ogdensburg.
After seven years of dedication to the Kang Duk Won Karate Association (KDW), she earned the rank of 1st-degree Black Belt in 1988 when she was 61; for two more years she continued to teach and participate there. At the time of her “retirement” from KDW, she wrote that, “other than the Church, I am convinced that KDW provides the greatest opportunity for young people in the North Country to learn how to accept challenges and become stronger individuals both mentally and physically.”
After she took an early retirement from teaching in 1987, Mrs. Fortune’s passion for her family, particularly her grandchildren, remained her primary focus. She also volunteered for Meals on Wheels, delivering food to shut-ins and the elderly.
As much as she loved her family, her faith in God was the first priority—the very foundation—of her life. Her unflagging devotion, testimony, and spirit of perseverance were an inspiration to many people.
Memorial contributions may be made to the Society of the United Helpers at www.unitedhelpers.org/giving or 732 Ford St., Ogdensburg, NY 13669.
Condolences and fond memories may be shared with her family at www.foxandmurrayfuneralhome.com.