Cover photo for Norma Magnuson's Obituary
Norma Magnuson Profile Photo
1934 Norma 2023

Norma Magnuson

February 21, 1934 — May 13, 2023


Norma D. Magnuson (Domian), age 89, of Madison peacefully passed away on Saturday, May 13, 2023, at her home. She was born on February 21, 1934, in Farmington, MN, the daughter of Otto E. Domian and Edna F. Domian (Bezanson). Norma grew up in the Minneapolis area. She earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Macalester College and in summer 1955 she participated in Minnesota’s Student Project for Amity among Nations (SPAN) in Italy. After graduation Norma taught sixth grade and tenth grade English and Social Studies in Roseville, MN. She met John in those years when he was a graduate student at the University of Minnesota. Norma and John J. Magnuson were married on June 14, 1959, in St. Paul, MN.


After marrying, they lived in Vancouver B.C. where Norma worked as a librarian at the University of British Columbia. They moved to Hawaii where Norma was a librarian at Punahou School in Honolulu and John was a fishery oceanographer. Both daughters were born in a Honolulu hospital overlooking the ocean. They settled in Madison in December 1967, when John became a professor at the University of Wisconsin. Madison became the family home for the next 55.5 years. Norma was very active in University League, serving as secretary, membership chair, and archivist; she founded the genealogy interest group and was an active member in the antiques and needlework groups. She loved sewing and going antiquing with her friends and family.


Norma and John celebrated 63 years of marriage last June. Norma was a loving and caring wife, mother, and grandmother. Norma loved the time she spent with her children and grandchildren and will be remembered as a selfless mother and grandmother. During these years, Norma and John spent a year in Washington, D.C.; in Europe, including Lammi, Finland; Stockholm, Sweden; and Windermere, England; and in Seattle, WA. She was generous in the support she provided John in his professional life including the hosting of many students, staff, faculty, and visiting scientists and in participating in many busman’s holidays at lakeside field stations and at professional meetings. In addition to sewing and antiques, Norma’s hobbles included doing family history and visiting the places where her ancestors had lived; favorites included the Montbéliard area of what is now a part of France; Lunenburg in Nova Scotia, Canada; and Concord, MA.

Norma is survived by her husband John Magnuson, daughters Susan Berg (Steven) and Jennifer McMahon (Dennis); grandsons Calvin Berg, Ben McMahon, and Martin Berg; sisters-in-law Mary Domian and Joyce Sjostrom; as well as nieces and nephews, and her beloved dogs, Patch and Joy. She was preceded in death by her parents Otto and Edna, and brother Louis Domian.

An open house celebration of Norma’s life will be held at the family home in Madison on Saturday, June 3, 2023, from 1 to 5 p.m. In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Dane County Humane Society or an animal rescue organization of your choice.

Cress Funeral Service

3610 Speedway Rd.

Madison, WI 53705



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