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Norah Lillian Nylen




Norah Lillian Nylen was born on December 31, 1922 in Glasgow, Scotland and died peacefully in her adopted hometown of Grand Rapids on September 6, 2019. Norah was the third of four children born to William and Minnie Drew, brothers Desmond and Frankie, and beloved younger sister Rita who survives her. The family moved to Dublin where Norah attended primary education before relocating permanently to Wimbledon outside of London.  Norah was a gifted student who left school early to join the workforce and contribute to family expenses.  Norah and Rita were occasionally able to flee the dangers of bombings in London by going on holiday to the south or west coast with their mother, staying with an uncle who lived in a safer area. During one vacation she met Lieutenant Harry Barr Nylen of the US Army Infantry. After a whirlwind courtship, the couple were married in l944 on October 14 at the Church of Sacred Heart in Wimbledon. After a one day honeymoon, Harry was returned to war duties and Norah to work. Apart from occasional weekend leaves, the couple was not permanently reunited until February of 1946 when Norah was brought stateside aboard a decommissioned Italian liner with 1200 other war brides. The young ladies were welcomed to the shores at a Radio City Show opened by Eleanor Roosevelt. She resumed travel by train to Michigan where she was met in a surprise reunion at a much earlier station stop by her husband.  The couple eventually established family life in East Grand Rapids: Deborah Ann (John Stephen Bauserman), Robert Drew (deceased) and Nancy Elizabeth.  Norah enjoyed competing in various sports.  In Grand Rapids she was an avid golfer as a 50 year member of Cascade Hills Country Club and earned a woman’s championship title playing with a friend at Kent Country Club. She continued playing tennis well into her 70s and maintained a strict discipline of daily walking..  She volunteered with the Blodgett Guild for many years, donning the crisp white blouses and pink smocks favored during the era. She sewed most of her daughters’ clothing and learned tailoring. Her apple and blueberry pies were legendary. She kept a comfortable home for the family including in the confines of a little travel trailer on the many trips around the country.  She was the principle navigator/ organizer but once a reluctant driver when Barr was felled by a pinched nerve on a challenging trip in the Rocky Mountains.  In later life, Norah and Barr enjoyed traveling abroad, returning several times to England and Scotland to visit family along with tours of Japan, Thailand and Hawaii. After Barr’s passing (on September 6 of 1993), Norah traveled with friends to Europe and with family to the Caribbean. She was adventurous and active throughout her life, met challenges with a can-do spirit and few complaints. Her friends knew her to be a trustworthy and loyal confidante.  Norah was a lifelong member of St. Paul the Apostle Catholic Church and raised the children there, attending well into her nineties herself. She is also survived by grandsons Trenton Drew Bauserman (Daniel Watson de Roux), Michael Alexander Bauserman (Zhang Qian), Daniel Barr Nylen and granddaughter, Lily Anne Nylen, great grandchildren, Lucas and Anna, as well as many nieces and nephews from her extended English family.  Norah eventually moved to Porter Hills and resided there for the past 11 years, reuniting with many old friends and cultivating a whole new set of friends.  The family would like to thank the staff and community for their support as well as the excellent nursing staff who attended her in the Neuroscience ward following a stroke at Butterworth Hospital where she died surrounded by family love.  A memorial service will be held at 11:00 a.m. at Porter Hills Retirement Community, 3600 E. Fulton St., Grand Rapids on Saturday, September 21, followed by refreshments at the same location.  Internment will be private.  In lieu of flowers, contributions to the charity of one’s choice will be gratefully accepted on her behalf.

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One Response

  1. I was deeply saddened by this news.She had been my neighbor , my patient and friend for many years. My thoughts are with the family at this time of loss.

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