Norma, wife of Wayne Pederson, President of Reach Beyond, Returned Heavenly Home at 65 Because of Cancer; Known for Servant Heart, Loving Spirit
By Boaz Wadel
Norma Pederson, the wife of Wayne Pederson, president of Reach Beyond (formerly HCJB Global), passed away Thursday, April 3, after a yearlong battle with cancer. She died while in home hospice care in Colorado Springs, Colorado, and was 65 years old.
"She passed peacefully with family around her quoting great resurrection Scriptures," reported Wayne in breaking the news of his high school sweetheart's passing to friends and ministry supporters. "We're happy for Norma, sad for us. There is no way to thank you all for your love, support, and prayers during this time. We are truly blessed to have you in our lives."
Norma was diagnosed with cancer in May 2013, and underwent extensive surgery and four months of chemotherapy. While it appeared that Norma had made a remarkable recovery, the cancer returned in March of this year and ultimately took her life.
"We mourn the loss of Norma, and our hearts and prayers go out for Wayne and the rest of the Pederson family," shared NRB President & CEO Dr. Jerry A. Johnson. "Yet we are thankful that her pain is now gone and that she is with the Lord and with loved ones who have gone before us. Until the Lord calls us home, she will be greatly missed."
Dr. Johnson was among the friends and ministry supporters who celebrated Norma's life at 2:00 p.m. Thursday, April 10, at Calvary Church in Roseville, MN.
A memorial service is also set for Colorado Springs, CO, on Saturday, May 10.
On hearing of her passing, there were dozens of tributes paid to Norma Pederson on social media.
"There was no one who met Norma that didn't know Jesus better after meeting her," said longtime friend, Dallas Anderson, in a Facebook post.
Reach Beyond Board Chairman, Jim Gordon and his wife, Bonnie, said, "Norma was an amazing woman who clearly was devoted to serving God and people-all people. She had a beautiful way of sharing in a group of women and made you feel like you were the only one in the room. We admired her unselfish, unconditional, and unwavering love for people and her faithful commitment to the Lord. Norma's sense of humor was refreshing."
The Gordons also pointed out Norma's ever-present smile and contagious laugh-traits mentioned by nearly all who knew her. "When she said she would pray about something or for someone, we knew she would," they added. "She was a loyal friend! We feel incredibly blessed to have known Norma and have such precious memories from these past few years."
Leith Anderson, president of the National Association of Evangelicals (NAE), remembers Norma as a "godly and good person whom everyone wants as a friend. You can count her friends in the thousands across America and around the globe. She lived her Christian faith with excitement and consistency. We celebrate her life and love and miss her already."
Norma Jane Ness Pederson was born in Crookston, Minnesota., on June 2, 1948, to Victor and Bernice Ness who continue to reside in nearby Fertile, Minn., close to where she grew up on a farm. Norma came to Christ as a child while attending Maple Bay Free Lutheran Church in Fertile. She especially enjoyed attending vacation Bible school and participating in the Maple Bay Girls Chorus.
When she was 16 and a junior in high school, Wayne worked up the courage to take Norma home from the county fair. Wayne was a senior, and as they continued dating, it became clear that they were made for each other.
Norma attended the Association Free Lutheran Bible School in Minneapolis after high school and also nursing school in Fergus Falls, Minn., where she graduated as an LPN in 1968, the same year the couple married on Sept. 14.
Wayne and Norma Pederson
She worked in obstetrics and gynecology at North Memorial Hospital in Minneapolis and also as a receptionist at Shoreview Family Physicians in Shoreview, Minn., while Wayne served at Northwestern University-St. Paul.
In 2002 new job opportunities took the Pedersons to Washington, D.C., and Palm Springs, Calif. Two years later they moved to Chicago where Wayne served in management at Moody Broadcasting and Norma worked in the Moody Bookstore. They lived downtown and loved working, walking and taking in the wide variety of entertainment.
Bruce Everhart, vice president of donor development and channel strategy at Moody, was encouraged by Norma's leadership and her unwavering support of Wayne.
"I cannot think of a more honest, joyful, caring and thoughtful person than Norma Pederson," he said. "Her abiding support of her husband was a model for so many in our work. Her leadership to other women was exemplary. She was a true friend, always seeming to know the right thing to say to encourage and comfort."
Approaching the age when many would consider retirement, the Pedersons sensed God's call when the Reach Beyond board asked if Wayne would consider becoming president. As Norma dropped off Wayne at the airport for his interview, she declared, "I will follow you wherever you go!"
The Pedersons left Chicago in 2008 for Colorado Springs, joining the mission that would take them on trips to Europe, Africa, South America, and Asia Pacific, almost always traveling together.
"I had the pleasure of traveling with Wayne and Norma on donor visitations," recounted Steve Hodgson, Reach Beyond's executive director of development. "Wayne would often say, 'I am the techy; she is the people person.' People loved Norma, and her gentle, inquisitive spirit made people feel heard, loved and encouraged.... I will miss her smile, the glint of joy in her eyes and her passion for Jesus."
Ron Cline, a Reach Beyond ambassador and a former mission president, related, "Norma was a perfect partner for Wayne, a real 'helpmeet.' She was so much a part of everything he did. Her love and concern for people, the ones she had just met and those she counted as friends, was beautiful to watch. She was a fun person to be with. She loved life, she loved people, and she loved the Lord."
In addition to her husband of more than 45 years, Norma is survived by the couple's two daughters, Christy Becher and Michelle Keller, and nine grandchildren.