Norma K. Siebenheller, well known in Transylvania County as an avid naturalist and author, died peacefully Friday, April 15, 2022, surrounded by her family and friends at her home, after a short illness. She was 84 years old.
Born in Hasbrouck Heights, New Jersey, she spent a year bedridden due to illness before being voted Most School Spirit for four consecutive years at Hasbrouck Heights High School.
Norma graduated from Bucknell University in under four years, was a member of the Phi Beta Kappa Society, and also a sister in the Alpha Chi Omega Sorority, graduating in 1958.
After establishing a household, Norma completed a Master’s Degree in Library Sciences at Pratt Institute in New York. She went on to work for the New York Public Library System for 10 years as a librarian.
Norma was an author of a book about the mystery writer P.D. James, as well the author of several of her own mysteries. She was a contributor to many other books, including one about Agatha Christie, and others about the North Carolina mountains and nature. She was a regular contributor to Bird Watchers Digest, as well as other nature publications.
While getting an advanced degree and starting a career, Norma volunteered extensively with her husband at the Staten Island Museum and at Richmond Town Historical Site on Staten Island. She was also the founder of the Staten Island Geological Society. At this time in her life she also developed a keen interest in birding, which she continued to explore for the remainder of her life.
She and her husband wrote the weekly nature column “Footnotes on Nature” for the Staten Island Advance, a tradition they continued until 1985, when they moved permanently to Transylvania County. And as long-time readers of the Transylvania Times know, they were soon writing a similar column for this newspaper, calling it “Birds in Focus.” They wrote it weekly for more than 25 years, stopping only when ill health and old age forced their retirement.
She and her husband founded the Transylvania County Bird Club, which continues to this day.
In addition to birds and nature, Norma’s interests included baseball (both the Yankees and Mets), reading, gardening and needlework, and, of course her family
She was predeceased by her husband of 61 years, William. She is survived by her son, David and his wife Jill; and granddaughter Kristen.
A memorial gathering will be held at a later date.
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