Norman Alfred Converse, Jr., 92, of Marion, died August 19, 2021, at home, with his loving wife Betsey J. Converse, and his daughter Amy at his side.
Born in New Bedford on December 26, 1928, Norman was the son of the late Norman A. (Sr.) and Margaret (Russell) Converse. He was raised in New Bedford on Brownell St., attended New Bedford schools, and moved to Mattapoisett in his teen years. There, he learned to scallop in a small skiff and credited his stepdad, Clifford Tripp, with giving him a good start on the water.
He served in the U.S. Army in the Korean War, as a very young man. Returning to Mattapoisett at age 19, he finished high school at Fairhaven High, then enrolled at Spartan School of Aeronautics in Tulsa, Oklahoma, where he acquired a license in aircraft engineering. He returned to Mattapoisett and married the love of his life, Betsey June Winslow in 1951. For the first five years of their marriage he was employed at Pratt & Whitney as an airplane technician in Hartford, CT. He also got his pilot’s license, restored an old canvas covered biplane, flew it around New England with his new bride, and embarked upon a hard-working and productive lifestyle, structured largely around his many interests and skills.
Norman and Betsey returned to the area to raise their family and settled in Marion. He was employed for the rest of his working career with New England Telephone Company as a central office technician, dealing with complex electronic trouble-shooting and equipment installation. His early retirement was forced upon him by a serious back injury, but he continued to pursue as many hobbies and interests as he could for the next 40 years.
These included building meticulous ship models and RC airplanes (which he flew with a few special friends at local airfields). He enjoyed photography, chess, playing cards and Scrabble (and winning); watercolor painting, winemaking, cooking, reading and watching old westerns. He could build or repair anything, and renovated a wooden sailboat for weekend Buzzards Bay adventures. Gardening was a favorite activity, as was fishing and hunting. He raised rabbits in the backyard, went bow-hunting for deer, shot wild ducks, was an avid fisherman, and knew the best local spots for oysters, clams, mussels. He smoked jerky and bluefish and developed an award-winning pickled herring recipe. Norman took pride in his self-sufficiency in these areas ~ putting food on the table that he had grown, caught, or foraged (Euell Gibbons style) gave him great satisfaction, and his family thrived on fresh and delicious meals, while saving money (another favorite activity!).
He and Betsey spent many summers on their “homestead” in Harrington, Maine, enjoying an off the grid lifestyle made easy and pleasant by Norman’s ingenuity, and introducing his daughters to the joys of clearing alders, using a chain saw, hand auguring to drill a well, hauling and burning brush, as well as star gazing, building a campfire, canoeing and rowing in the cove, blueberry picking, and of course, using the outhouse, which was built to perfection by Norman, and adorably decorated by Betsey.
He also introduced his family to the pleasures of sailing, skiing, camping, and backpacking in the White Mountains. He was a member of the AMC “4,000 Footer Club”, a designation for those who climbed every peak in the White Mountains over 4,000 ft. He was also a talented musician, self-taught at folk and classical guitar, and had a lovely tenor voice. He possessed an incredible memory for lyrics, and still surprised his family with full verses of songs we’d never known he knew, right up until the end of his life.
Norman is survived by his wife Betsey; his daughters, Sara, Amy and Polly; his granddaughter Faith and grandsons Rowan, Zephyr and Adam; his sisters Muriel, Celeste, Corrine and Christine; brothers Marquis, Marshall, and Kent; all of their spouses, and many nieces and nephews. He was a good man, and will be dearly missed.
“Home is the sailor, home from sea,
And the hunter, home from the hill”……
A private memorial was held at graveside in Cushing Cemetery, Mattapoisett, MA. Arrangements were made with Saunders-Dwyer Mattapoisett Home for Funerals. For online guestbook, visit www.saundersdwyer.com.