Norman ‘Norm’ Charles Tischhauser

By on March 11, 2009

Norman “Norm” Charles Tischhauser, 77, of Virgil, passed away peacefully at Kishwaukee Community Hospital, DeKalb, where he had courageously battled cancer for many months.

He was born May 15, 1931, the son of Charles L. and Ena Margaret (Wade) Tischhauser in Bond County, Ill.

Norm faced many physical and emotional obstacles throughout his life, and he faced them in a way that was uniquely his. At the early age of 6 years old, Norm caught his hand in a horse-drawn hay elevator and lost the use of his ring finger. Through sheer determination, he worked with that limitation until he had it surgically removed so that he wouldn’t hinder his abilities as a mechanic and all-around jack-of-all trades.

It was only eight years later that he lost his mother to colon cancer. He would have to relive that nightmare once again when his sister also died of colon cancer at the age of 36. After the death of his mother, Norm became the “chief cook and bottle washer” of the family, with a little help from his aunt, and cooked a majority of the meals for the family. Through all of this, Norm continued his education, earning straight A’s until his graduation from Carlyle High School in 1949. Later, when recounting his younger years, Norm would routinely tell the story of how he had to walk to school every day, sometimes through snow as high as the fence line, up hill, both ways, with the miles to school increasing with every telling.

Norm’s life changed when he came up from southern Illinois to work on the Oliver Anderson farm. It was less than a mile from where Joyce VanStone worked as a waitress at her parent’s coffee shop on the corner of Meredith Road and Route 64. One look and Norm was hooked.

Before he went back down south for Christmas, Joyce gave Norm a nifty “flip top” lighter. A hot romance followed his return, and on July 22, 1950, they were wed. Joyce was 16, Norm was 18, and some folks were counting the days until a baby was born. They had to count about 730 days, however, before Barry was born two years later. Joyce and Norm were young and life was never easy, but their love lasted a lifetime.

Norm put down roots at the corner of Meredith Road and Route 64 in Virgil when he opened his own shop on April 1, 1960.

It consisted of a full-service gas station and garage where the community brought their cars to be fixed and their stories to be told. Norm was dedicated to his shop as well as his patrons, and no one ever drove away a stranger because they could all count Norm among their friends. He also worked for Bob-Jo Speedway, towing away the wrecks using a converted ‘58 Willy Jeep.

In 1969, Norm bought a cabin on Spores Island on the Rock River in Byron, Ill. It was there his legend was born, landing a 32-pound, 36-inch long catfish and a 45-pound turtle. The cabin had electricity, but not much else, but that didn’t matter to Norm and his boys, and later his grandsons, as they made a lifetime of memories and passed on decades of wilderness wisdom.

Norm was an avid hunter, and he took advantage of every season throughout the year. No matter what he brought home, whether it be squirrel, pheasant, rabbit or any other wildlife, Norm as adept at preparing them so that Joyce could put on a feast of flavors for the family, although no one could rival his smoked catfish. In the spring, there was no one better at mushroom hunting along the railroad tracks as his keen eyes helped fill bags to bring home when he went on his “walks” after dinner. Norm was also a horseshoe expert, winning nearly every match, even when picking the worst player as a partner.

When he wasn’t working in the shop or spending time at the cabin, Norm enjoyed bowling with his friends and fishing trips to Canada. In 2007, Norm got a taste of Hollywood when he and his shop took center stage in Witless Protection, starring Larry the Cable Guy. The movie featured the shop and a cameo by Norm himself, though the credits only say “old man sleeping.” His new-found celebrity brought out several stories in suburban newspapers as well as the Chicago Tribune.

In later years, Norm gave up many of his favorite things to care for Joyce as her health began to decline. He was determined to keep his promise that no matter what happened, he would care for her and she would never spend one night in a nursing home. Shortly before her passing in December of 2008, Norm was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer and would finish the last three months of his life facing yet another obstacle. Norm’s brother Jim was instrumental in his care, coming whenever Norm called and doing whatever was asked of him; including trips to chemotherapy. He was Norm’s rock and an inspiration to the rest of the family.

Overall, Norm was a man of many talents. He was an entertainer but he could fix anything; he was proud of the grease under his fingernails, yet could recite Shakespeare and poetry from memory. He was the type of man who loved his family dearly, his wife endlessly and who never met a stranger that didn’t become a friend. His memory will live on for generations and his spirit will dwell in the hearts of his family and all the people who were lucky enough to call him friend.

He is survived by six children, Barry (Donna) Tischhauser of Athens, Tenn., Dennis (Shari) Tischhauser of Wasco, Rob (Jackie) Tischhauser of New Albin, Iowa, David (Judy) Tischhauser of Genoa, Ill., Greg Tischhauser of Virgil, and Ena Carlson of Yorkville, Ill.; 18 grandchildren, Barry and Donna’s: Amanda (Brad) Walker, and Elizabeth (Mark) Boesen; Denny and Shari’s: Sarah Galpin, Ben Galpin, Emily Tischhauser, Eli Tischhauser; Rob and Jackie’s: David (Gege) Tischhauser, Rebecca (Cody) Brunning and Kevin (Jessi) Tischhauser; David and Judy’s: Chaz Tischhauser, Miles Tischhauser, Wade Tischhauser, Abby Richards, Tyler Richards; Greg’s: Samantha Tischhauser; Ena and Keith’s: Nicole Carlson, Samantha Carlson, Michael McCormac; 11 great-grandchildren: Tyler, Bryce, Devyn, Josyah, Shaelynn, Patrick, Morgan, Madison, Megan, Mark and Maverick, plus two “on the way”; one brother, James (Marilyn) Tischhauser of Pocahontas, Ill.; several nieces and nephews, and one special cousin, Linda (Mike) Zitkus of Elburn.

He now joins his parents; his wife, Joyce; one sister, Betty Lou Tischhauser; and one son-in-law, Keith Carlson (June 2007).

Visitation will be from 2 to 8 p.m., Thursday, March 12, at Conley Funeral Home, 116 W. Pierce St., Elburn, IL. There will also be a time of visitation Friday, March 13, from 10 to 11:30 a.m., with a funeral service to celebrate his life to follow at noon. Following cremation, private family committal services will later be held.

Friends not able to come for the service may begin watching it via webcast at 11:55 a.m. at www.conleycare.com. It will also be available for on-demand viewing the following day.

A memorial has been established in Norm’s name to benefit the American Cancer Society, as well as other favorite charities. Memorials checks may be made to the Norm Tischhauser Memorial and mailed in care of P.O. Box 66, Elburn, IL 60119. Tributes and memories may also be forwarded to the family at the same address or through his obituary at www.conleycare.com.