Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Talk about burying the lede! Obit writer and hog-caller!

Thomas J. Normand, 65, longtime Nashville Banner obituary writer

Longtime Nashville Banner obituary writer Thomas Jean "Tom" Normand,
65, is remembered as a master of his craft and as a fun-loving soul by
former colleagues.

Mr. Normand's body was discovered Sunday at his West Nashville home by
his only child, Suzanne Normand Blackwood, a staffer at The

Arrangements are incomplete but are being handled by Harpeth Hills
Funeral Home and Memory Garden, 9090 Highway 100.

Former Nashville Banner Editor Eddie Jones said Tuesday that Mr.
Normand "put his heart and soul into that special niche" of obituary

Jones said Mr. Normand "had some sort of natural kindness in him and,
during the 10 years I worked with him, I got innumerable letters and
telephone calls from families who had lost somebody and Tom had done
the obit. They would say how much they appreciated Tom's kindness."

When The Banner closed nine years ago, Mr. Normand came to The
Tennessean for a time.

Mary Hance, who learned to write obituaries under Mr. Normand's
tutelage in her early years at the Banner, remembered him as "a true
professional with a knack for writing ... interesting and descriptive

"He took it very seriously and chose to be an obituary writer in an
industry where, in many newspapers, obit writing was relegated to
young, inexperienced reporters."

His life wasn't just about death, though. It also was about calling
the hogs.

"He had another side, a fun-loving side," said Hance, The Tennessean's
"Ms. Cheap."

"He was one of the people who helped shape the Swine Ball, the
American Cancer Society fundraiser that spoofed the Swan Ball. His
annual award-winning hog call - a long, drawn-out, very realistic
rendition - was unequalled and always drew a huge crowd and much

"He also could, at the drop of a hat, recite Louisiana Governor Jimmie
Davis' gospel song 'Supper Time.' "

Mr. Normand was born Dec. 29, 1941, in Marksville, La. Survivors
include two sisters, Peggy Underwood of Houston and Leah Sadden of
Hammond, La.; a brother, Owen Normand of Soquel, Calif.; four nieces;
and a nephew.


Alana Baranick said...

Bury is right, Steve.

At first, I was thinking, "How neat that this guy is like us!"

I needed that validation right now.

Our editors recently put out a list of reporters and their duties in the reorganization of our 64-people-small editorial staff. Me and my obits were listed second to the last, just above a recently hired former intern who does night cop calls.

Even my newsroom partner-in-grim, who writes obits two days a week and handles announcements of people who've won awards and upcoming events, was higher on the list than I.

I'm not sure how many readers would have stayed with the story to learn about this obit writer's hog-calling hobby.

I'm inspired. Where do I sign up for hog-calling lessons?

Kay Powell said...

Come to Georgia, Alana. We've got hog callers galore. Training you in their art would make them as happy as a pig in slop.
Kay Powell