A memorial service to honor and celebrate the life of Linda Kay Critchfield will be 4 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017 at the Blue Starr Church of Christ. Cremation arrangements have been entrusted to Rice Funeral Service. Linda passed away on Friday, Dec. 30, 2016 at her home, surrounded by her family. She was 73.
Born June 2, 1943 in Stockton, California, Linda was the eldest of four children gifted to Alex and Katie (Lee) Norman. Although born away, Claremore was always 'home' for Linda as while still an infant, she and her parents moved to this community where deep roots were established.
Linda often recounted of her family not having much in the way of resources during her childhood years. The family home even heated solely by a coal burning stove in the winter. To counter the brutally frigid conditions, parents and children together would snuggle with quilts upon quilts piled high. Linda would say that despite their best efforts - she still froze. It is likely because of this experience that upon the discovery of electric blankets, later in life, that Linda was sure to buy a hefty supply. This, as she wanted to ensure that her family would always be nice and comfy during the winter seasons.
While in the third grade, Linda taught herself the art of sewing. She initially made doll clothes, but as her skills progressed she began making clothes for herself, her siblings and even her parents. This was a practice that she enjoyed throughout her lifetime. As Linda had a family of her own, she was sure to sew many elaborate costumes for school plays and dance competitions. She also fashioned many Halloween costumes for her family including the perfect Miss Piggy attire made especially for her husband, Mike.
Linda attended Verdigris Schools through the 8th grade. She then completed high school at Claremore where she met her future husband, Mike Critchfield. She fell hard for him and would intentionally miss the bus just so she could walk home - detouring past Mike's house on the east side of town. This was certainly on purpose and a bit out of the way as she lived on the complete opposite side of town. Throughout their high school years, the two would attend church together and dated off and on- Mike even making several attempts at marriage proposals.
Upon graduating from high school, Mike went off to college while Linda stayed in Claremore where she worked for the Neely Insurance Agency. It was a disagreement with Mike that led to a big change in Linda's life. She left their disagreement and went straight to the recruiting office to join the service, a revenge enlistment as it were.
It was the United States Marine Corp that would immediately accept Linda and after signing the papers, it was off to basic training. Linda was then stationed in Washington, D.C. as she served her country for two years in active duty capacity. Upon her honorable discharge, she continued to make D.C. her home. It was there that she was employed by Russell Stover and discovered her love of Orange Cream chocolate delicacies.
Always staying in touch with Mike, Linda decided to drive to Biloxi, MS to visit him where he was stationed, at Keesler Air Force Base, as he too made a decision to join the service a few of years after Linda. It was at this visit that instead of awaiting Mike to make yet another proposal for marriage that Linda surprised him by popping the question. Of course he said yes and the two joined together in marriage at the Central Church of Christ in Claremore on July 19, 1965. Upon Mike's honorable discharge, seven years later, the couple would return to Claremore where they remained.
Described by her family as 'Superwoman', Linda found a way to accomplish the impossible. The family had a small acreage where they kept animals and had a large garden. She was instrumental in caring for the animals and tending the garden. At the same time, she was a co-founder and co-owner of a daycare business in Oologah and Claremore. Linda also turned her passion of sewing into a business as she opened Fashion Fabrics in the Ne-Mar Center. A long-time faithful member of the Blue Starr Church of Christ, Linda spent many years as a Sunday school teacher. She too was the nutritionist and cook for Tiawah Schools. All of this and she somehow managed to squeeze in weekly trips to Tahlequah where she completed her special education certification requirements. In her spare time, she enjoyed finding a quiet place to enjoy a book and sip on her hot tea - a love that she passed down to her grandsons: Riker and Drake.
Upon completion of her education certification, Linda began her teaching career. She taught first at Caney Valley in Ramona and quickly transferred to Sequoyah Schools where she spent the remainder of her career teaching Jr. High Special Education. Linda was wildly impactful in this role. One to always go the extra mile, she was duly recognized for her efforts as she was awarded the high honor of 'Teacher of the Year'. Linda retired from this endeavor in 2007.
In the mid 1980's, Linda re-enlisted in the service as she spent an additional 18 years in the Air National Guard. It was during this time that she was instrumental in recruiting her husband, sister and daughter to the Guard as well. She retired attaining the rank of Master Sergeant serving as Squadron Safety NCOIC.
Generous, kind, loving and nurturing were all words used to describe Linda. She was always dispensing bits of wisdom to those she encountered and the effects of her unbelievably, positive impact on others is difficult to measure.
This loving daughter, sister, wife, mother, grandmother and aunt will be deeply missed by those who knew and loved her. She leaves to carry on her legacy: her children: son, Jon Critchfield and fiancé Melissa Cammarata of Claremore, daughter, Karen Olari of Claremore; two grandsons: Riker and Drake Olari and their father, Tom; her siblings: brother, Landy Norman; sisters: Fran Brewster and husband, Allen and Sandi Williams and husband, Jerry along with her 'spiritual sisters': Robin Wood and Carylone Isaacs. She is also survived by a niece, nephews, other relatives and numerous friends that she considered family.
She was preceded in death by her parents and her husband, Mike (June 2016).
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorial donations to honor Linda be directed to Hope Harbor Children's Home & Family Ministries: P.O. Box 1047, Claremore, OK 74018.
Published on January 6, 2017