Norman Lee Vladyka
June 30, 1936 - January 21, 2021
Norman Lee Vladyka was born June 30th, 1936 in Gregory, South Dakota to Frances and William Vladyka Sr. He rode off peacefully into the sunset for the last time in Salem, Oregon on January 21,2021. Norman was the middle son of three boys; the cowboy. A private man with a passion for whiskey, westerns and words too colorful to print. His early childhood was spent much like a ranch-hand, on a large farm with no electricity and no indoor plumbing but plenty of room to roam and ride his horse to the one room country school house he attended. In 1951 the family sold the farm and headed west, spending 2 years in California before settling in Salem on a small private orchard where Norman spent his first year in Salem attending his last year in school, graduating from Salem High in 1954. Norman found employment with two nurseries in town, Brydon and Doerfler, and joined the National Guard where he attained the rank of Sergeant and was awarded the Chiefs 50 Marksmanship Badge for combat rifle. His green thumb led him to serve as President of The Salem Rose Society from which he later resigned stating, "their thumbs were in the wrong place," presumably a mutual feeling. Norman was never shy about telling you how he felt. Lloyd Center was just opening when Norman accepted a position with the Woolworth Company and was quickly promoted to assistant manager, a position that took him to several cities in the western region including Fairbanks, Alaska. It was a cold year and a half before Norman was transferred one last time to Baker City, Oregon. After a few years he was offered an assistant manager position with another company, Western Auto, in Pendleton. He was only there a few months before he was offered an assistant manager position in Hilo, Hawaii. It wasn't long before Norman was on a plane headed for the islands and shortly after his arrival he was promoted to Manager and spent the next 11 years growing his store into the number one store in the nation for profit and sales. Norman loved Hawaii so he bought some land and built a cabin and enjoyed island life. He was proud of his accomplishments but after 11 years he wanted something new. So, in 1981 he retired from retail, sold everything, including his cabin, and moved back to the mainland, and six months later Mt. Kilauea erupted and destroyed the town of Kalapana, where he had built his cabin
His new found retirement didn't last long and he soon ventured into a new career, antiques, opening a shop in Nyack New York and spending the next 15 years traveling across the United States buying and selling antiques.
Norman retired a second time in 1997 and returned home to Salem to help run the family orchard. When he wasn't pruning, planting or picking the 700 cherry trees he had planted by hand, you could find Norman on his porch; whiskey in one hand, rifle in the other, honing his marksmanship skills on any varmint that was unfortunate enough to show its face as Normans colorful words echoed across the property.
The cowboy spirit was still strong in Norman throughout his final years and with the travel trailer in tow, he and his brother, Bill, took many a journey across North America enjoying the wonders of this great continent.
Normans gruff exterior covered up a gentle and caring soul who was loved dearly by those who knew him. Norman is preceded in death by his mother, father and older brother, Melvin. He is survived by his younger brother William Vladyka Jr. Norman will be missed greatly and remembered with laughter, love and a few colorful words.
With a tear in our eye, we tip our hats and raise our glass to you, Norman. Adios
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