Death of a Classmate - Norman Deam - 12th Co


 Norman Deam  (February 22, 1932 - January 8, 2022)

San Luis Obispo, California - Norman Arthur Deam passed away peacefully, surrounded by family, at his home in San Luis Obispo, California on January 8th, 2022. He was 89. Norm will be remembered by his free spirit, intellect, and wit.
Norm was the youngest of three born to Arthur Deam, a professor of architecture, and Thyra an accomplished pianist. Norm finished high school in Champaign Urbana, Illinois and spent summers at the family's decommissioned government lighthouse in Saugatuck, Michigan.
Norm loved playing sports and as the captain of his basketball team became his school's all-time high scorer. He met Connie Graves at a beach party when he arranged to "swap" dates with a friend so that he could meet her. They were married in 1956 and enjoyed 63 years together while raising their two sons, Eric and Chris.
Norm attended the U.S. Naval Academy and graduated with honors in 1954. He continued his education at the Naval Postgraduate school in Monterey, CA, where he finished first in class, studied Russian Language Scientific Reading at the Army Language School, and earned a master’s degree in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Michigan.
Norm began his Naval career as a fighter pilot and squadron leader on the USS Hornet. He was a flight instructor at NAS North Island in Coronado, CA, and served on the USS Kitty Hawk. He was also an Astronaut candidate at NASA and led the development of the High-speed Anti-Radiation Missile program (HARM). He finished his career in the Navy as the Program Manager of all test programs at the Pacific Missile Test Center at Pt. Mugu, CA. Norm was proud to wear the uniform even though it pinched a bit.
After thirty one years of service, Norm retired as a Captain in the U.S. Navy. He went on to teach Aeronautical Engineering at California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo where he was a lecturer for ten years. He was well liked by students who enjoyed his dramatic stories about his life as a pilot.
In retirement Norm enjoyed traveling with his intrepid wife Connie. Their adventures took them to places of scenic beauty including New Zealand, Sweden, Italy, Turkey, Peru, Brazil, Mongolia, China, Africa, and the US national Parks. From each place he visited, Norm would bring home an exotic hat for his extensive collection that he hung on the ceiling of his cherished "Lighthouse" in Saugatuck, Michigan.
Norm was often the life of the party and never missed an opportunity to connect with friends and share a good laugh. He enjoyed meeting new people and it seemed like he remembered everyone he met. Known for his hilarious stories and vivid recollections of misadventure, he often left us crying with laughter. He loved a good costume party (especially in drag), and threw boisterous "hat and tie" parties where the dress code was a hat, a tie, and a swimming suit (which he went without occasionally to enjoy a moonlit skinny-dip with Connie). Norm would also amuse his grandkids by using a hammer to do a jigsaw puzzle, a shoe for a canoe paddle, or his ears to "eat" popcorn. They never quite knew what to expect next.
Norm and Connie made people feel welcome and special, and acted as surrogate parents to many younger friends (who Norm mercilessly put to work on building and maintenance projects). They loved their community on the Old Harbor where they took glass blowing and painting classes at the Ox-Bow School of Art, had many friends, and collected works by young artists. Norm also enjoyed documenting local history and gave lectures to the Saugatuck-Douglas Historical Society about his life growing up in the Lighthouse.
In San Luis Obispo, Norm enjoyed his membership in the Retired Active Men's Club (RAMS), being a docent for elephant seals at San Simeon, watching Cal Poly sports, and landscape painting (which he adopted in his 70's).
Norm also loved nature and was devoted to protecting the environment, especially the unspoiled dunes around his family's Lighthouse. Later in life, he was reluctantly embroiled in one of the largest land disputes in Michigan when he was forced to defend his property from hostile development. Norm's dedication to stewardship and legal perseverance enabled the Land Conservancy of West Michigan to purchase the surrounding lands with generous grants and donations from the state and local community. The end result of Norm's achievement was the preservation of 180 acres of pristine freshwater dune and wetlands that is now the Old Harbor Natural Area in Saugatuck, Michigan.
Ultimately, Norm will be remembered as the Lighthouse Keeper who lit the light to guide our way.
He is preceded in death by his wife Constance Graves Deam in 2018, and survived by his sons Eric and Chris, his daughter-in-law Lara, and grandchildren Cal and Macy.
A celebration of his life will be held at First Presbyterian Church of San Luis Obispo on April 2, 2022, and a celebration of both Norm and Connie's lives is tentatively scheduled at the Historical Society on July, 24, 2022 in Douglas, Michigan.
In respect of Norm's devotion to nature and art, please consider making a donation to the Ox-Bow School of Art, the Saugatuck Dunes Coastal Alliance, or the West Michigan Land Conservancy.
Published by The Tribune from Jan. 29 to Jan. 30, 2022.

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