Norma Elaine Jensen-DeGonzague
May 18, 1942 - July 11, 2021
Norma Elaine Jensen-DeGonzague (née Smith), 79, passed away on July 11, 2021, surrounded by family, at the Canyon Vista Medical Center in Sierra Vista. She had been a Sierra Vista resident since 1975.
Norma was born on May 18, 1942, in Ainsworth, Nebraska, to Howard and Stella Smith. She was raised in Ainsworth and graduated from Ainsworth High School in 1961. She married her first husband, Donald Jensen, in 1962. She and Don were blessed with two children, Michael and Lisa.
After her marriage to Don ended in 1974, Norma joined the U.S. Army and proudly served in the Women’s Army Corps (WAC). Upon completing military training, she arrived at Fort Huachuca, which became her first and only duty assignment. After the arrival of her third child, Holly, Norma transitioned from active duty to the U.S. Army Reserves, where she served for several years before separating from military service. She then began a long and distinguished career in federal service at Fort Huachuca while simultaneously attending college and obtaining two associate’s degrees.
Norma married the love of her life, John "Ronald" DeGonzague, in 1995. She and Ron had many happy years together prior to his passing earlier this year. They enjoyed extensive travel across the country, often sharing their adventures with good friends.
A dedicated supporter of multiple veterans groups, Norma had the distinction of becoming the first female to hold the position of Commander of the American Legion, Bill Carmichael Post 52, in Sierra Vista. She also served as District 3 Commander and held a number of other roles within the American Legion organization. Norma was also a member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars (VFW) Auxiliary Post 9972. Additionally, she and her dear friend Sharon Upchurch became the first female members of the Fraternal Order of Eagles #3593 in Benson.
Norma will be remembered as a woman of generosity with a fun spirit and a side of feistiness, a gal who packed a big heart into a tiny body. Her friends and family will affectionately remember her for her uninhibited and straightforward nature—a trait that sometimes took others by surprise but endeared her to all who knew her.
Norma enjoyed spending many a Saturday morning hitting the garage sales, forever lured by the bargains to be had. She rounded things out with her middle-of-the-night QVC purchases when insomnia set in. As a result of her passion for finding a good deal, she leaves behind a hell of a lot of stuff for her children, who have no idea what to do with it. There’s no question that she loved "her stuff," but her greatest joy in life was family. Seeing all of her children and grandchildren grow into who they were supposed to be brought her a tremendous sense of pride and happiness.
Norma is survived by her son Michael Jensen of Omaha, Nebraska; daughters Lisa McClellen and Holly Jensen, both of Tucson, Arizona; grandchildren Rylee McClellen, Arianna Criner, and Garon Criner, all of Tucson; son-in-law Paul Criner of Tucson; and many nieces, nephews, and friends. She also leaves behind her beloved rescue dog Rusty, who provided her with unwavering comfort and companionship during her illness. Preceding Norma in death were her husband Ron; parents Howard and Stella; stepfather Dale Gelsinger; brother Keith Smith; sister Audrey "Susie" Allen; and son-in-law Gordon McClellen.
A private committal service with military honors will be held at 1:00 pm on Friday, July 16, at the Southern Arizona Veterans’ Memorial Cemetery in Sierra Vista, with interment immediately following. At 2:00 pm, friends are invited to join the family for a reception and celebration of Norma’s life at the American Legion Post 52 in Sierra Vista.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests memorial contributions to either the American Legion Post 52 or to the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation of America.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Norma Elaine (Smith) Jensen-DeGonzague, please visit our floral store.