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14 February 6 - 19, 2010
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Norman was born in 1933 in his parent’s home at proposed. Barbara cites the couple’s mutual support, including
Knox Road and Arizona Avenue, and was the third “It was very romantic,” he says, this time without Norman’s encouragement of her civic undertakings
generation of his family to farm in Chandler. His jest. “We were standing in my folks’ kitchen. I said ‘Let and her encouragement of his fl ying, as one reason
orphaned grandfather, Thompson Alexander “Alex” me see your ring,’ so she handed it to me and when I their marriage has remained strong. Their shared
Knox, arrived from Canada in 1896 to seek his fortune, handed it back, it was a diamond.” values also hold them together.
farming for the Dobson family before branching out Just six days after Norman received his degree in “We have always been extremely active in the
on his own. After Alex’s death, Norman’s father, Orval, Agriculture, the couple was married in a wedding that Methodist Church in every way,” she says. “It’s been
carried on, cultivating as many as 1,800 acres at once. was so large it had to be held in the brand new First an integral part of our lives.”
Barbara Gaddis and her family were late-comers in Methodist Church of Mesa. Their union was put to For their 50th anniversary, Barbara and Norman
comparison, moving from Indiana in 1947 in search of the test soon after they started on their honeymoon: a traveled to Alaska with their family, which has grown
a healthier climate for Barbara’s ill mother. driving tour through California and Nevada. to include Lyle’s wife, Sue; Alex’s wife, Lisa and
After a year in Phoenix, her father landed a job “She almost divorced me before we got to Indio,” their children Nicole, 15, and Thompson, 13. The
teaching at Chandler High School, and the family laughs Norman, admitting he refused to stop and add grandchildren are hinting at another trip for their
purchased a home across the street from what is now water to the car’s evaporative cooler during the desert upcoming anniversary, but Barbara and Norman
Chandler Center for the Arts. On the day after the drive. haven’t yet decided how to mark the day. When asked
move, the long-time Methodists, including 15-year- Barbara and Norman have traveled many miles how a couple manages to reach such a milestone,
old Barbara, visited their new church. together since then, most of them by air. Norman Barbara pauses to refl ect.
“I went to Sunday school and Norman was there, earned his private pilot’s license in 1958, a year after “I think the secret to marriage is being able to enjoy
so I met him the second day,” Barbara says. “He had a the couple’s fi rst son, Lyle, was born. The family things with one another,” she says. “We do things
girl’s bracelet on his arm because he had a girlfriend.” was soon involved in the Arizona Flying Farmers. In together.”
The Gaddis and Knox families grew close, and 1965 a second son, Alexander, was born, and in 1969 Not to be outdone, Norman offers marriage advice
before long, Norman’s attention turned to Barbara. Barbara was named Queen of the International Flying of his own.
The pair began dating while seniors at Chandler High, Farmers, traveling 85,000 miles to promote aviation “The man always has the last word,” he says. “Yes,
where both played trumpet, he as fi rst chair, she as and agriculture, most often with Norman at her side. dear.”
second. “Farming is 12 months a year,” Barbara explains.
“I was president of the band, she was secretary,” “We never had very long to get away. All of our lives,
K. M. Lang lives in Sun Groves with her husband and
adds Norman. “I called her my ‘knee-sitting secretary.’” except for one trip, we fl ew everywhere. It was a major
their three college students, and may be reached at
KMLang@SanTanSun.com.
Barbara and Norman’s families both valued part of our lives.”
education, and their courtship was put on hold during Norman’s year-round farming commitments meant
college. Barbara attended Colorado Women’s College the couple was home a good deal, as well.
before earning a degree in Elementary Education “That allowed us time to be very, very involved in
from the University of Arizona, and Norman attended our community,” says Barbara, who spent eight years
Arizona State University for a year before heading to on the board of Chandler Unifi ed School District and
U.C. Davis. The couple saw each other during summer was instrumental in building the Chandler Center for
breaks, and in August before their senior year Norman the Arts, one of her proudest accomplishments.
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