Dr. Norma Huth Banks

November 21, 1934September 13, 2021
Obituary of Dr. Norma Huth Banks
Dr. Norma Nadine Huth Banks, clinical psychologist, mother to five (and so many more), Unitarian, connoisseur of the arts, and life aficionado, passed away on September 13, 2021 at 86. Hers was a life full of color and laughter, hard-earned successes, and encounters with all walks of life. Growing up in the hot San Jaoquin Valley, she was drawn to learning, music, cooking, and the cooler climes of Minnesota, but she always maintained her wild, elegant, and free California spirit. She had a natural compassion for others, as demonstrated in her friendships, generous giving, and professional life. She touched many lives deeply in her time, and left a legacy of family, friends, and delicious butter-filled recipes. As an only child, Norma’s dream was for a large family and to be part of a vibrant community. She had a habit of adopting into her circle her children’s friends, students from abroad, neighbors, and an assortment of other characters. And her circle embraced the wider community through her role as a clinical psychologist for criminal offenders, avid fan of the arts, and world traveler. In the last few months of life at home with colon cancer, her bedroom hummed with a constant barrage of loving fans. Norma treasured the friendships, experiences, and artifacts gleaned throughout life. She was a lifelong student of history, from Cleopatra and Genghis Khan to Hamilton and Obama. Russia dominated her library collection and led to walks about Saint Petersburg and Moscow. In the British Isles, castle ruins, pints of ale, and savory cheeses piqued her interest. Her passion for opera inspired trips to performances in New York, Paris, London, and Vienna. A child of the Great Depression, she lovingly cared for her possessions: there was her grandmother’s twice-welded mince meat grinder, a cable-knit sweater that took her seven years to make, decades of issues of Sunset Magazine, and her son’s scrap-metal penny-farthing sculpture. But of all her accumulated treasures, her family and friends were her most prized. With them, she delighted in grandchildren, viewed movies like Babette’s Feast and Guthrie productions like King Lear, raged against injustice, sipped sherry, and traipsed all over Europe and beyond. It was Norma’s steadfast determination and passion for family, that compelled her, as a single mother of five in 1971, to finish her undergraduate work at Berkeley, move to Saint Paul, buy and gradually renovate a Victorian fixer-upper in St. Anthony Park, pursue a Ph.D. in psychology, and launch a fascinating and fulfilling career as a forensic psychologist for Hennepin County Court Services. As an expert witness who testified in court, she was commended by many judges for her dedication, insightful analysis, and ability to navigate complex cases to ensure justice was served. Norma stretched her means in every way possible to enrich her children’s lives with music lessons, camping trips, travel opportunities, and college educations and, later, to dote on her beloved grandchildren. Because of Norma’s welcoming spirit, growing up in her house was a wonderfully broadening experience that, over the course of 50 years, included friends and loved ones from Indonesia, Britain, Germany, Italy, Iran, China, Brazil, Switzerland, Ethiopia, Libya, and elsewhere. She taught her kids to pursue their dreams, even in the face of long odds. This outlook on life led to many family adventures, including her eldest sons’ year-long rugged motorcycle trip around the world in the mid-1980s. Norma also loved the small routines in life: her daily swimming schedule, mornings with double espresso and the New York Times, and listening to KSJN public radio while driving. With retirement, she loved bringing even more people together through her cooking, packing her suitcase for Portland, Oregon and Washington, D.C., going to the orchestra, and meeting friends at the Minneapolis Institute of Art or 46th Street Patisserie. By the end, she looked back on a rich life surrounded by beloved friends and family, as was her dream. Norma leaves behind sons, Stephen (Jane Burnham) Banks, Gregory (Kim Pengelly) Banks, David (Arlene) Banks, John (Ferry) Banks; daughter, Kirsten (Paul) Cutler; and twelve wonderful grandchildren. We will miss her dearly. Celebration of Life will be held at 11 AM on Thursday, September 23rd at Unity Church Unitarian 733 Portland Ave, St. Paul. Memorial contributions may be made to St. Paul Chamber Orchestra or Simpson Housing Services for the homeless Neptune Society 763-545-8095

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Thursday, September 23, 2021

Celebration of Life