The Passing of a Legend

I believe that we are shaped by those strong individuals who God has place around us; whether it be as a child or even as an adult. I have been a very lucky man…I was the son of an incredible gentleman, my father, Ivan Carmichael, who passed away this month (March) two years ago. I awoke this morning and went about my normal routine…when the phone rang.Norm & Jay When the phone rings early in the morning you know it is most likely not good news. My very good and longtime friend, Norm Lorenz of Osmond, Nebraska had passed away, at the golden-age of 88.

Norm, outside of my own father, has shaped me more so than any other. His influence on me and within my family is immeasurable, period. My sons, Harrison and Jonas have both grown up with ‘Norm’ at their side…for the past 27 years The ‘Carmichael’s’ have been making the one way journey of 700 miles to the small town of Osmond under the cloud of ‘pheasant-hunting’; the real truth is that we made this trip so many times because of Norman Lorenz.

Norm and I met on a cold November day way back in 1993, and while I wish I could take the time to give you “The Rest of the Story” as Paul Harvey would say…let me shorten it a bit and tell it to you this way. We had made the long trip to Northeast Nebraska to pheasant hunt and as things can do…the plans went haywire. That was when Norm stepped in and offered up a bit of pheasant hunting; you see, we, my father and a couple of other men were staying at their bed and breakfast when Norm picked up on the fact that we had been ‘led-astray’ by another community member (who we would later go on to find was indeed a crook). I didn’t know it then, but Norm offered to take us to a ‘spot’ where he knew there were some pheasants; the reality of the morning was this…Norm was testing us city-slickers out to see if we were safe or worth our salt. Let’s just say that we passed the test and each year since then have spent countless days with Norm chasing around the ringnecks of the northeast corner of Nebraska.Nebraska Pheasant Hunt

I talk a lot about Norm, always will…and have had lots of people ask me what makes him the most special person I ever knew? I usually pause a second, look at the ground, then look them right in the eye and tell them that Norm was without question the most talented, outgoing and caring person I have ever met, period…hands down he was the walking epitome of what a Christian person should act like and be. We have spent a lot of hours together and I have never heard him say an unkind thing about another person. Now…I am sure he might have had a few negative thoughts, but I can assure you that those words never ventured out of his mouth!

Talented…wow, Norman was truly a ‘Renascence’ man; he could make wine, play cards, garden like no other, shoot like a world champ, do stain-glass that would have made Michelangelo proud, fish…and honestly the list is just starting…but want to know what he was really good at…being a world class family man! Norm and his wife of 60+ years, Jacquie, had three children, Mike, Patty and Debbie…and as the bible says, there was a lot of ‘begatting’ going on. All told the kids, grandkids, great-grandkids…number almost 60! They are the most well-respected family that I have known and that all ends and begins with Norm and his incredible love and devotion to the clan. In fact, Debbie told me that Norm had already made stain-glass pieces for all grand and great-grand kids for the upcoming Christmas of 2020; he had individualized each piece and left a note for each one to read!Norm, Jeff & Jacquie

Norm and my father were less than one month apart in age; Norm was born on Dec. 7th of 1931. I am hoping that this date rings a bell…if not, just know that Norm was ten years old (and celebrating his birthday) the day that Pearl-Harbor was bombed. The two of them shared many hours within a cold Suburban, idling away time talking…while waiting for me and my boys to circle fields and round up a few of those gaudy Nebraska pheasants. I know that my father ‘loved’ Norm like a brother. There was respect between the two…they had survived some tough times and were for sure a part of “The Greater Generation”! Euchre was the big nighttime event while in Osmond; dad and Norm always partnered up together and to say they were unstoppable would be the understatement of the day. For 25 years I carted various euchre partners along with me…trying desperately to ‘un-seat’ the champions; it never happened, not once! We, my friend from Bloomington and I, actually got very close once. We had won the first game and were up 6-2 in the second game…when trouble began. You see I told you above that Norm was a wine maker…and a darn good one; it was at this point that he pulled out a bottle of his very best…let’s just say that in less than an hour my partner was tipsy and the OG’s had come back to defeat us, once again! Norm even finished off the night in ‘walk-off’ fashion as he ended the game with a perfect hand…a loner that couldn’t be beat!Nebraska Pheasant Hunters 2005

I am so very sad as I sit here today. My mind has raced back to hundreds of pheasant hunts…to good times that were had over good bird dogs; and yet I know that it is all my own selfishness. I know where Norm is today. His presence, his legacy, will last for generations as his children and heirs move on and move forward with their lives. They may not quite yet understand it…but they hail from ‘royalty’, a line that can trace its origin back to a genteel man, a humble man, a devoted father, husband and family man…a Christian man that won’t be just hard to forget…but will be impossible to forget.

Yes, I am indeed a lucky man, in many ways…but to have been able to call Norman Lorenz my friend, will always be at the top of my list. I am picturing Norm and dad up above, smiling together while looking over the beautiful fields of heaven, lush with colorful pheasants, no aches or pain…and they can stroll there forever!

NOTE: Norm was also mentioned in a previous article about “Outdoor Friendships“.

Comments

    • Erica
    • April 1, 2020
    Reply

    Beautifully written! As one of his grandchildren we were blessed to have grandpa Norman as a part of our lives to teach us many lessons. He was a great listener and a man of few words at times but you are right…those words always reflected kindness. It’s touching to know that he blessed so many others with his presence and they too recognize the great life he lived.

    Btw…he said he would would waiting in heaven with a deck of cards so you might want to keep practicing that game of euchre 😉

    Erica
    (Debbie’s daughter)

      • Jeff
      • April 1, 2020
      Reply

      Erica,
      I know that all of you, like myself, are hurting. I can’t imagine not spending time in Norm’s presence! I just hope that this piece is enough to honor him…he has literally shaped who I am and how I think. My oldest son, Harrison, wanted just one thing for his upcoming wedding in October…to have Norm and Jacquie present…it was the first thing he asked me after telling me about the engagement. I wish I could ease your loss…but what a goal he has set for all the rest of us! Thanks for sharing your thoughts….
      Jeff

    • Bryan Schmit
    • April 1, 2020
    Reply

    What an amazing tribute to a truly remarkable man. Always knew he was some kind of special! I bet there are some Osmond descendants in heaven welcoming him to their eternal card table. 😊Well done Norm!

      • Jeff
      • April 1, 2020
      Reply

      Bryan,
      Thanks for sharing…Nebraska Norm will always have a place in my family…and until I pass, I won’t forget all the lessons that he taught me! God bless all of you in Nebraska….
      jeff

    • Gordon Kumm
    • April 1, 2020
    Reply

    What a great tribute Jeff. What you have said is a mirror of how I feel. I grew up knowing Norm. He was like second father to me. He supported me in everything I tried in high school, and after graduation when I started my own business. Through the years we became good friends and hunting partners.
    In 1984 I moved to Phoenix . Every time I came home, Norm was the one person I made a point to stop and see. Even made a few trips back to do some pheasant hunting myself. I do believe I met you one one of those trips. After hunting behind your dogs, I have owned nothing but shorthairs. Could tell many more stories, but will keep this short.
    I was home a couple of weeks ago, and did stop to see Norm. So glad I did. I got to tell him how much he really meant to me. I think he already knew.
    Norm was a wonderful person, and will be missed greatly.

      • Jeff I Carmichael
      • April 2, 2020
      Reply

      Gordon,
      I do remember you; in fact just a couple of summers ago we again met while my wife and I were visiting Norm and Jacquie…I am sad, been a tough week, but only sad for myself. I have zero worries about where Norm is right now. I just wish that everyone had just a few moments of ‘Norm’ time…they would have been a better person for it. Thanks for reaching out to me…
      Jeff

    • A
    • April 1, 2020
    Reply

    Jeff,
    I don’t know you, but your story moved me to tears this evening. You see, Norman and Jacquie are very special to me as well. I was a young girl, married to a guy from Osmond that maybe wasn’t the most respected. We had a strained relationship that ended In divorce, and I found myself living in low income housing, working 3 jobs, and struggling to overcome not only the damage to myself from that relationship, but the reputation that came along with it.

    I met Norman and Jacquie through one of my part time jobs, and what the rest of the town seemed to think of me didn’t appear to matter to them. We had lots of discussions over time, and because of their kindness and caring, I began to make strides in the right direction.

    I met and married a man from the next town over, and a few years later, they did some work for us, and we enjoyed a little more time together. Then, as things do, life happened and we didn’t cross paths for quite awhile.

    We saw each other again at a town function and struck up right where we left off. Again, nothing but kindness and grace from them. I ended up taking their family photos a few years ago and saw them a few more times before we moved out of state. I did tell them one time what their kindness did for me, but in their humble way, they dismissed it and said I had done it all on my own. I clearly did not, and I will never forget how they treated me when they sure didn’t have to. I hope that I have repaid their kindness by helping others.

    I will deeply miss Norman, but I will always carry that lesson close to my heart.

    Thank you for allowing me to say all of this.

      • Jeff
      • April 2, 2020
      Reply

      That was just the kind of person that both Norm and Jacquie were and frankly always impressed me so much…they were willing to see the good in all! His legacy is going to be all the things we do moving forward. Within my family that little town has always meant way more than pheasant hunting. I am soon to come to the end of a 35 year teaching career and while I had the very best father anyone could ask for…Norm would always ask and genuinely want to know about my kids and where my career was. It wasn’t fake, he would always tell me how much I meant to my group. Now…my own son is 6 years in to his special needs teaching career and that cycle continues. Thank you for sharing with me this morning…I woke up early with Norm on my mind and it was good to read this…and frankly I am sure there are hundreds more just like it!
      Jeff

    • Justin Lorenz
    • April 1, 2020
    Reply

    Jeff
    Reading your article brought back a lot of fond memories from my youth. I enjoyed the times I got to tag along with you Ivan and Grandpa on some of those pheasant hunts. Grandpa always spoke fondly of you and your family. It’s hard to believe how many years have passed since those hunts, but I wanted to reach out and tell you how much I appreciate what you wrote about Grandpa Norm.

    Justin Lorenz

      • Jeff I Carmichael
      • April 2, 2020
      Reply

      Justin,
      So good to hear from you. There wasn’t a single time visiting grandpa when he and I didn’t catch up on where you were and what you were doing. I know that this loss is a tough one for all of you; the sting of all of this just says how very special he was. There are times when people die and not much is said….but in this case, we are all feeling sorry for OUR loss. He was a very good friend to me for many years….I hope to run into you one day….God Bless!
      Jeff

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