Harriette Cynthia (Poole) Norvell, age 79, of Lansing, Michigan, went to be with her heavenly father on Tuesday, May 28, 2019. In death as in life, her loving husband, Merritt, was by her side.
Born on March 5, 1940, in Massillon, Ohio, to the late Leroy and Sadie (Bostick) Poole. At the age of nine, Cynthia and her family moved to Madison, Wisconsin. Shortly after high school at the University of Wisconsin, she met the man that was to be her spouse for 56 years, Merritt Norvell. They dated throughout his college career and married July 4th, 1962. To their union were born two sons, Jay and Aaron.
A truly beautiful spirit, both inside and out, Cynthia was one of the first black models in the Wisconsin area. Discovered in Manchester’s department store in Madison, she soon found herself in demand as a print and runway model. In 1966, she reached national recognition as she and her young family were featured in Ebony magazine. It was said she helped define typical beauty standards, set new precedents, and popularized fashion trends of the day.
A devoted wife and mother Cynthia worked by her husband’s side as he moved forward in his career. She was dedicated to each of her sons and supported their athletic pursuits, their careers and their passions. An ardent sports fan, Jay and Aaron knew their mother could be counted on to be on the sidelines, in the stands, or watching via television and quick to call with her support regardless of the outcome. She herself was an award-winning tennis player.
Cynthia was one of those unique individuals who knew and understood her purpose in life and what God wanted her to do. Her passion for life was her fuel and she kept that fuel in well-stocked supply. When asked how she was, her response was always, “I’M BLESSED.”
She had dreams and she made them come true. She set goals and achieved them. She celebrated each day of her life, no matter the circumstances and was quick to share words of encouragement and/or gratitude with family and friends through a bible verse, a quote or poem always delivered in a handwritten note.
Cynthia had an exuberant personality and was an example that life without purpose and passion is a life not worth living. Her zeal for life resulted in her love for many things such as: travel, reading and writing, music and theatre, carousels, collecting elephants and angels, finding “a real bargain” at a consignment or antique store and volunteering. She had an appreciation for good food, excellent wine and sharing time with friends and family.
At the time of her passing, Cynthia was at peace. We are born, we live, and we die. She knew we cannot do anything about being born or about dying, but we can do a lot about how we live.
She also took pride in her home and her garden. As a metaphor for her life, the same patience and perseverance it took to maintain her beautiful home and garden was reflective of her life… nurturing living things and bringing beauty and peace to the world.
She was preceded in death by her parents, her brothers Leroy and Elvis, and many cherished family and friends.
She leaves a legacy to be treasured by her husband, Merritt; sons, Jay (Kim) and Aaron (Lysken); grandson Jaden and granddaughter Raelee Harriett; sisters, Rosetta Johnson, Hazel Poole and Johnetta (Doug) Simmons and many nieces and nephews who were very dear to her; adopted family, friends and the many souls she touched along her way.
A celebration of life will be held on Wednesday, June 19, 2019, 1:30 p.m. at Friendship Baptist Church, 2912 Pleasant Grove Road, Lansing, Michigan.
Memorials should be made in Cynthia’s name to: The American Cancer Society, P.O. Box 42040, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73123, or www.cancer.org or 800-227-2345. Send acknowledgements to 4236 Pine Tree Lane, Lansing, Michigan 48911.
Arrangements are by the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel. www.EstesLeadley.com