Noralea D. Bickley 1928-2018
On November 17, 2018 Mom put on her dancing shoes and soared on wings like eagles into her Saviors arms.
Noralea was born Elnora Lea Davis on March 29, 1928 to Sylvia Ann Ferguson Davis and Albion Everard Davis at her grandparent’s home outside of Hoxie, Kansas. Her grandmother, Bertha Ann Shinn Ferguson assisted in the birth, along with neighbor Maggie Moss, of the 12-pound baby girl. Two siblings followed, her sister Rosalie, one year later, and brother Allen when she was 8 years old.
She grew up with a host of cousins from both sides of the family and remained close to them all of her life. As a young child, she walked along the Solomon River to attend the Zimmerman School in Studley, Kansas. When she was in the 3rd grade the family moved to Yuma, CO, joining her Uncle Louie and Aunt Sophie Ferguson. Noralea and cousin Joan rode with Sophie’s brother, Johnny Byers in his “coupe” with a crate of geese in the rumble seat! 12 head of cows, in a “trailer thing”; 1 saddle horse and crates of chickens also made the trip. The family stayed with the Ferguson’s for 2 months before buying a farm south of Yuma. Everard farmed, hunted coyotes and worked as a day-laborer for Frank Herman, who was married to Sylvia’s cousin, Vi.
In making the move, her parents legally changed her name from Elnora Lea to Noralea; the reason being her sister couldn’t pronounce her name! Noralea rode a horse to school, attending the Mount Olive School. She was the only pupil in her grade, until she went to High School in Yuma. She moved to Yuma to attend Yuma Union High School joining the class of 1946. She stayed with her grandfather, Albion Angus Davis. During her high school years, she kept house for the Morton’s for 1 year and worked at the Turkey Plant. She was raised in the Methodist church, until attending the Presbyterian Church with classmate, Dorothy Carpenter. With many of her cousins and friends enlisting in the service during World War II, she moved to Fort Collins, CO to live with her cousin Nettie Clear and husband, Jim. Noralea and Nettie attended Greeley Beauty School in Greeley, CO. She worked at the Bishop Café to put herself through school. Working at the Café fostered her addiction to fountain Coke!
Noralea’s first job was at Mr. and Mrs. Wright’s Salon in Fort Collins, above the Dime Store. Moving back to Yuma, a year later, she worked for Pearl Dresen at Pearl’s Beauty Shop. While working at Pearl’s she met Army Airman, Berdell Bickley, when he came to pick up his mother Lillian after getting her hair fixed. He asked her to go to the dance with him that night. She resisted, he persisted! The rest is history! Berdell and Noralea were married September 28, 1947 at her parent’s farm south of Yuma. Friend, Frank Ison and sister, Rosalie were their attendants. After a honeymoon trip to Oregon, the couple made their home on the Bickley Ranch south of Otis. They joined Berdell’s parents, Guy and Lillian Bickley, raising cattle, horses and farming. Two children were born to this union, Lyndell Lea in 1950 and Aaron Guy in 1953. Noralea and Berdell joined the Otis Presbyterian Church where Noralea remained active all of her life, serving as a Deacon an Elder and as the Bible School Superintendent. They remained close to many ministers and families through the years.
Noralea loved riding horses and served as Washington County Fair Queen Attendant in 1951. Always an active, giving woman, she attended NJC taking Tailoring and Sewing classes. She later taught Outreach classes through CSU, NJC and MCC, teaching many women and girls in Northeastern Colorado to sew and quilt.
She owned four different Fabric and Quilt Shops. She worked for her brother and sister-in-law, Allen and Pat Davis at the Hobby Nut for several years and also helped Carole Unger, later in her Quilt Shop. Noralea was a 4-H leader for 25 years, organizing the Otis Cracker Jacks 4-H club. Through the years she designed and made many wedding dresses and complete wedding party clothes. She baked and decorated wedding cakes and mints. Noralea furnished and arranged flowers from her garden, creating boutonnieres and flower girl baskets. She sewed Prom dresses, Cheerleaders outfits, Majorette uniforms, Men’s suits and shirts, taught Jean making classes, and machine embroidery classes. Sewed names and awards on FFA jackets, awards on letter jackets. She made Fair Queen outfits and banners. Patty Blach’s Colorado Hereford Queen and Melody Rogers and niece, Nicki Davis’s Colorado Angus Queen outfits. She was the Washington County Adult 4-H Advisor, OHS FHA sponsor and FFA Mother. She taught quilting classes saying, “I have slept under handmade quilts all my life! Made by her Grandmother and mother”. She created many gifts of padded photo albums and padded baskets. Along with the wedding cakes, she baked and decorated birthday and Anniversary cakes.
Noralea was a member of the Extension Home Demonstration Club, Washington County Cattlewomen, Colorado Cattlewomen, and VFW Auxiliary. She worked beside Berdell on the farm, driving tractors, calving cows, milking, watching over mama pigs, raising chicken for eggs and meat, filling the larder with canned food and pickles. She helped supplement the farm income, working for friends, Slim and Esther Roesler at “Slim’s Place”. She also drove a cattle truck for Ralph Armstrong, as well as trucks for several area farmers during harvest. She and Berdell loved playing cards, fishing and hunting. But maybe even better, hunting and chasing coyotes on Sunday afternoons! And always, they danced!!
Noralea and Berdell were devoted supporters of their children, grandchildren and even great grandchildren’s (and children they thought belonged to them!) sports and activities. Youth Rodeos, Cattle and Sheep shows, Football, Wrestling, Volleyball (PeeWee through College for those three sports), Basketball, Baseball, Track, and Swimming just to name a few. They would cheer loud from the bleachers armed with all the snacks that go with the “Grandparenting” job!
In the early 1990’s they retired from the ranch, where, Aaron and Sandy continue the family legacy. They moved into the Homestead apartments in Otis. Berdell passed-on in March 2008. Noralea continued living in Otis (and sewing!) until she fell and broke her hip. She moved to Yuma Life Care until September 26, 2016, when she moved to Columbine West Health and Rehab Center in Fort Collins. She enjoyed making new friends and loved her caregivers and the staff.
On Saturday, November 17, 2018 Noralea went home to Heaven to join all the loved ones who have gone before her to Eternal Peace and Love in Jesus’ arms!
Celebrating her Love and Life is her family. Daughter, Lyndell and Roger Tuell, with their children Trevor and Melissa, Taiten and Maren of Fort Collins, CO; Kevann and Moritz Moritz, Curren and Gracyn of Columbia, SC; Megan and Jared Breinig, Ashby and Trell of Eaton, CO and Guy Tuell and fiancée Andrea Schaefer of Fort Collins, CO. Son, Aaron and Sandy Bickley, with their children Cody and Lynette and Coltyn of Colorado Springs, CO; Kaci and Chad Kearns and Bristol of Mitchell, NE. Also surviving is her brother Allen and Pat Davis and children Arick and Brenda, Nicki and Phil Keesee several great nieces and nephews. Also celebrating is a host of friends, and extended family.
A Celebration of Life is November 24 at the Otis Presbyterian Church with burial following at the Otis Cemetery. In lieu of flowers and plants the family requests memorials to the Otis Presbyterian Church, or your favorite charity in Noralea’s name.