Our dear friend, Norm, lost his battle to cancer on 3-28-2020. Norm wasn’t a saint and he wasn’t a superhero, at least not in the traditional sense. But he could have been. All he needed was a secret identity and a cape. You see, Norm did more good for more people, than you could imagine. And he never asked for anything in return.
Norm was born January 1, 1953, lived and grew up here locally in the Scottsdale / Phoenix area. He went to Scottsdale High, lived near Bill Thompson of Wallace and Ladmo fame, was a good friend of Danny Harkins of Harkins Theatres, and he knew Alice Cooper. He played golf at a professional level and although he never won a major tournament, he always said he loved playing. We didn’t know Norm during those days; but from talking to some of his friends, we would have liked to have had him as one of our friends.
We had the pleasure of meeting Norm in a small conference room at Saint Joseph’s Hospital in March of 2007. The room was filled about two thirds with people who were dying from lung disease. It was a meeting for potential candidates for Dignity Health’s new lung transplant program. The program was so new that in fact it hadn’t yet performed a transplant. The meetings started small with just 5 or 6 possible transplant patients and their caregivers.
Before long, the prospects were required to attend physical rehabilitation at “Peppertree” on the hospital campus. Norm was always cheerful at rehab, pushing himself and offering encouragement to others. It was hard work for the patients and Norm’s smile and encouragement went a long way in making the road an easier one for everyone.
Then in August of 2007, Norm got the call. There were lungs ready for him and he became the 6th lung transplant patient at St. Joseph’s. For the next several weeks, Norm was cared for and helped along the path to recovery by his lifelong friend, Mike Heimer. Norm never failed to say how invaluable Mike’s help was to him, but he did like to pick on Mike (a professional chef) when he would barbecue in his sleeveless shirts.
In June of 2008, two lung transplant patients and their caregivers incorporated as the Lung Transplant Support Organization (the LTSO), and Norm immediately knew that he had to be a part of the group. He wanted to make sure that he was always giving back for the wonderful new lungs he had received. At first Norm didn’t want a position of authority, he just wanted to help the group help others.
Norm and Carl Johnston (one of the founders of the LTSO) came to the group in late 2009 and suggested a golf tournament as the main fundraiser for the LTSO. The tournament was held in May at the Legends Golf Club in Phoenix, and while we only raised about $10,000 it was, to us, a major success. Norm jumped in hot and heavy, obtaining sponsors for the tournament’s raffle and silent auction and golfers for the event itself. Norm was responsible that first year for bringing in about two thirds of the revenue for the group–something he continued to do for the next several years until others got comfortable with “asking” for donations, and the event grew to what it is today.
In June of 2012, Norm took over as President of the LTSO. He was the third one, and he held the position longer than any other individual. In fact, if Norm had wanted to continue in the position, he would never have been opposed. As President, Norm became the face of the LTSO. He attended press conferences, did public relations appearances for the LTSO and the hospital; and, most importantly, he attended lung transplant support meetings.
Norm was often the first “Lung Transplant Patient” that potential patients would meet. He was quick to introduce himself and help them begin their path to the new gift of life. He was always willing to talk in person, take a phone call, or answer emails for the “new folks”. One of the wonderful things about interacting with Norm was that he would always make people feel like they were the most important person in the world at the time. He brought assurance and eased so many worried minds.
Norm never had a setback involving his lungs during the 13 years after his transplant. That is except for when there was a minor problem with a “bronc” and he had to spend a couple of days getting back to his routine. He did the things he wasn’t supposed to do, like sneaking into the hospital to visit with new transplant recipients after their surgeries. Yeah, that isn’t good, but Norm couldn’t stop himself from helping others out.
Norm was very active in all of our activities. He was the first one to volunteer for an organ/tissue donation drive, participant, MC and contract negotiator for all of our golf tournaments and annual fall get togethers. Norm was an inspiration for all. Always there, always willing, and always having time for others.
When we announced Norm’s passing on our Facebook page, things went wild. Dozens of people shared stories about how Norm had helped them or provided them with individual attention. Each one feeling like Norm was there for them at any time and in any way. Each and every LTSO board member feels the same about Norm.
We don’t know how we will do it without Norm being here; but eventually, we will work it out. We will miss his smile, his sarcasm, his love of life. We will miss his guidance, his caring, and his support. There are few in life that affect so many so deeply. Norm Lydiard was one.
God bless you Norm. You were one in a billion.
Because of the current pandemic, services will be postponed until June or July. We will be sharing time date and location when the celebration is scheduled.