It is with profound sadness and broken hearts that we announce the passing of Norma Schmidt Francini, of Unionville, formerly of Plainville, on April 6, 2021 with her three devoted children by her side. Norma was born in her family’s tiny home on Bank Street in Plainville on May 31, 1937 while the Memorial Day parade marched by. The home stayed with the family until 1992 and remained a special place to her, as she was able to remain next door when she moved into her new home after marrying her high school sweetheart, Bill Francini, on April 12, 1958. True high school sweethearts they met when she was 14 and he was 16 years old. Norma & Bill moved their family to Unionville in 1972 to a home they designed together and it remained their shared pride for all of their days.
She was predeceased by her parents, Luise “Oma” (Heyne), Gottfried “Opa” Schmidt and her husband of 61 years, William Louis Francini. Also siblings, Alice Lepore, Jane Marsh, their spouses, Bill Schmidt, brother-in-law, Tom Johnson, niece, Karen Conrod, great nephew, Patrick Lepore and life long friend, Dee Lugli.
Norma leaves behind her 3 children, Lisa Francini, William G. Francini, both of Farmington and Leslie Francini Cifaldi, of Avon, four adoring granddaughters, Mikala Francini, Rachel Francini, Hannah Cifaldi, Katelyn Cifaldi, son-in-law, Nick Cifaldi, daughter-in-law, Mary Silansky Francini, and granddogs, Sofia and Ted. She also leaves behind her beloved younger brother, John Schmidt, sister-in-law, Judy and niece, Becky Schmidt Kruezer, of Plymouth, sister, Louise Johnson, of Avon, brother, George Schmidt and wife, Natalie, of Southington, along with several nieces and nephews. Her dear lifelong friends, Jane Rogers Statchen, of Plainville and Nancy Roberts McCarthy, of Bristol, will especially miss her.
Norma was locally well known for her artwork. She created thousands of miniature houses lovingly made of wood or driftwood as well as custom renditions of individual homes and hundreds of Santa Claus ornaments and decorations. Norma would walk the beaches of CT, RI, and Cape Cod picking up driftwood and pointing out how she could see the Santa face in each piece of wood. Everything she collected became a treasure and she could see the value in everything from an empty spool of thread to a broken earring. Her art room remains full of ideas, inspirations, and memories. Norma was a collector and her home is a reflection of her life and travels. Her love of travel brought her to many places. She was able to travel to Europe multiple times, also enjoyed cruising and the occasional bus trip. A frequent travel companion to many she visited 49 states with her daughter Lisa who planned out memorable, inspiring trips to many national parks and special places of interest within the US, Canada, the Caribbean and Mexico. She especially loved her trips to New Mexico, Alaska, Cape Cod, Old Lyme and Germany.
Norma was a volunteer and member of the Board of the Unionville Museum for 25+ years. Her love of gardening led her to the passion of keeping up the flowers and plants on the grounds of the museum. She also lent her treasures to the museum for various displays and put in many hours creating themes with friends, Patty LeBouthillier and the late Diana Meyer, as co-members of the Board.
Numerous families were lucky to have Norma affectionately known as “Oma” in their lives as a substitute grandmother, babysitter, and friend. She put young mothers at ease helping them with their young children so they could go out, vacation, or she would just be there to lend a helping hand.
She had a love for the UConn Women’s Basketball team and Geno Auriemma. She was a fan from the start and was proud to have met many of the players over the years at the MS walk in West Hartford. She was also a proud fan of her grandchildren. “Oma” attended every game, concert, graduation, play, and activity that she could. She was a natural athlete and often spoke about her own life in sports. She would have preferred playing basketball to cheerleading but back then there weren’t many choices for girls. She also had a love for the Boston Red Sox and attended many games at Fenway Park and other stadiums across the country. Always active, Norma was an original member of the hiking group, Wednesday Walkers with Priscilla Peale in Farmington and hiked regularly.
She was a devoted fan of Jeopardy, loved lobster dinners, Halloween, jigsaw puzzles, and old movies. Her handmade Halloween costumes were legendary. A natural born storyteller, she was never at a loss for words. Always the life of the party, she entertained her family with countless accounts of her well-lived and interesting life. Norma was a lifelong learner. She was often found reading a newspaper cover to cover or scouring an encyclopedia. She was grounded in empathy, an inclusive moral compass, and the ability to think for herself.
Her knowledge and wisdom about everything from cooking to sewing to home maintenance was never ending. She could figure out a solution to anything.
All who knew Norma will miss a selfless, devoted, strong, kind, creative, and loving woman with an infectious laugh and sharp wit. She never mastered technology or cared much for social media, which gave her the time to create her legacy of artwork. If you have in your possession any of her houses or Santa's, pick them up, look at the brush strokes, see the love that went into those creations. She would lose herself for hours turning pieces of wood into treasures, special gifts, memories, and collections. And if you have been lucky enough to know Norma, then consider yourself blessed. She will be so dearly missed.
In lieu of flowers, donations in Norma’s name can be made to: Unionville Museum, 15 School Street, Unionville, CT 06085 or Foodshare Inc., PO Box 1320, Hartford, CT 06143-1320 or plant a dogwood tree in her honor.
Friends and relatives are invited to gather on Monday, May 31, 2021 at 11:00 am with a Celebration of Life service beginning at noon at the Tunxis Country Club, Tunxis Pavilion, 87 Town Farm Road, Farmington, CT. The staff at Plainville Funeral Home, 81 Broad Street, Plainville extends their gratitude to the Francini family for their trust.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Norma Schmidt Francini, please visit our floral store.
15 School Street, Unionville CT 06085
PO Box 1320, Hartford CT 06143-1320