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In Memory of Norma Tanna

18 April, 2023

Norma you have served your God and now we pray that you have eternal rest with Him.

“Love one another as I have loved you.”

These few words were Norma’s life mantra.

Our community was deeply saddened by the sudden death of Norma Tanna recently. She was born in Innisfail, educated by the Sisters of Mercy at a little school in Herberton then continued her schooling at All Hallows. Her love for the Mercy Sisters continued throughout her life – she was a loving friend to the retired Sisters in Rockhampton and made monthly trips to check on their welfare and being. In 1992 she was a proactive member of the Mercy Associates here in Gladstone.

After schooling, she returned to Innisfail and obtained employment in the Court House, but romance was just around the corner with a young Lebanese lad called Reg Tanna. They married several years later and moved to Brisbane where they were blessed with three children – Catherine, Michael and Tony. In early 1966 Reg was appointed CEO/Manager of the Gladstone Port Authority and this marked the beginning of Norma’s involvement with the Star of the Sea Parish. She was employed for many years at Chanel College where she ran the book shop and then volunteered for the challenging job as pianist for the Chanel Choir. This choir performed at many functions in Gladstone and sang at the Anzac Day Dawn service for 30 years or more. On many occasions you would find members of the choir sleeping in their bags on the floor at the Tanna residence. Trips to Brisbane performing at little Catholic schools en route was the highlight for the choir each year. Norma would spend many days organising the playouts, accommodation and the fun day for the children.

Being a very talented musician she became the organist for Masses, funerals, weddings, baptisms anything that involved music. She continued this ministry up until the time of her death.

In 2000 following the sudden death of her husband, Norma completed her Bachelor of Education degree and began a teaching career at the age of 60 years. She taught in all the Catholic primary schools as well as many of the State schools here in Gladstone for 20 years. She was a truly dedicated teacher to her students, teachers and parents, and was well known in the system for bringing along her famous lemonade scones to celebrate the most feeble of occasions – anyone’s birthday, holidays coming up, retirement parties, you name it and Norma made her famous scones.  She eventually retired in July last year at 80 years of age. Everyone in all walks of life connection with education will miss Mrs T.

She was a very humble person her generosity knew no bounds –

from the slums of Brazil where Fr Paul Mahony was stationed for many years  –

to the arid pastures of South America where a cement tank (TANNA TANK) was installed so that local villagers could have water to her final charitable act

Donations in lieu of flowers at her funeral were asked to be sent to her childhood primary school at Herberton.

The story of Norma Tanna could go on and on and take up many pages as everyone here in Gladstone has a story of her good deeds.

As a community we were truly blessed to have had Norma as a parishioner, showing how to live justly and walk humbly with our God.