Birth and Family
Norma Rose Avegnon was born on Monday, October 31st, 1944 to Roosevelt Clark of Meridian, Mississippi and Nora Ila Stovall Clark of Indian Valley, Virginia. She was the youngest of their four daughters: Brenda, Sarah Janet, Patricia and Norma. All were raised in Cleveland, Ohio, their last home being 3304 East 139th Street.
Cleveland Public Schools, graduating in January, 1963. College training: Cuyahoga Community College (1966 Associate of Arts) and the University of Tulsa, in Tulsa Oklahoma (1968 Bachelor of Science in Education and German language).
Sterling Linder Davis Department Store. Cleveland, OH. Ohio Bell Telephone Company, American Bell, in Cleveland and Lucent Technologies in Stamford, CT (17 years total) She taught school in Lome, Togo (2 years). The Baha’I International Community Office, New York City, New York. (15 years)
Norma married Emmanuel Koku Winston, of Ahepe (Tagbligbo) Togo, West Africa on January 17, 1970. They met in Lome at the American Embassy where Winston served as receptionist and Norma had come to teach the Baha’I Faith. Together they raised Constance Hoefa Winston, Christine Hoenameko Winston, Evelyne Amelia Winston (d. 1970) in Lome, Togo and Carmel Akosiwa Winston. They moved from Togo to the United States in the summer of 1973 to pursue better education for the girls, and improved health for Norma. When Winston wanted to visit home, he was required to change his name back to his original family name, Avegnon, instead of using Winston, a name he had chosen after meeting Winston Churchill in Ghana. Norma and Carmel changed their names to Avegnon, too. During Norma’s marriage, Avegnon completed his G.E.D, his Associate’s, Bachelor’s, Master’s and Doctorate of Philosophy degrees. (Philosophy and Political Science) He worked as a drug abuse counselor and adjunct college professor, as well as organizing an African dance program. After 33 years, the marriage ended, and Avegnon returned to Togo, where he passed away in August, 2013.
Norma had the bounty of attending two Protestant churches as she grew up: the Church of God and the Disciples of Christ Christian Church. She accepted Christ and was baptized at the age of 15.
At 19. she was introduced by Phyllis Culp to Carol Dent. Carol invited Norma to a Baha’i Holy Day event where Norma learned about the Baha’I Faith. After deep study, Norma dedicated her life to living in accord with the Teachings of Baha’u’llah and The Bab from March, 1964 until her death. During her life, she worked with the youth, served as local assembly secretary, helped organize a college club, went to serve the Faith in Togo as a pioneer (1969 – 1973), sat on the Administrative Committee of Ghana, Togo, Dahomey, Nigeria, Niger and the Cameroons and on the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Togo, Dahomey and Niger. Once returning to the US, she continued her volunteer service to the Faith in various elected and appointed responsibilities on the local and district levels. When her Bell System job moved her family to New Canaan, CT, she helped to form New Canaan’s first Spiritual Assembly. In 1984, she was invited by Mary Power to volunteer at the Baha’I World Centre’s United Nations Office in New York City, New York. She was later hired, but in 2000, left due to ill health after 15 years of employment.
She continued her service to the Faith on the Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Cleveland, tutoring spiritual education courses to adults and teaching children’s classes to neighborhood children.
In 2002, Norma made her Baha’I Pilgrimage to Haifa, Israel, accompanied by her sister Brenda, to pay homage at the Shrines (graves) of Baha’u’llah and The Bab. Despite her dialysis treatments, Norma was blessed to successfully complete the journey.
In 2013, ill health caused her to accept the generous offer of her youngest daughter, Carmel, to move to Westerville Ohio (near Columbus) in 2013, she began her service on the Local Spiritual Assembly of Westerville.
“As I reflect, this life has been replete with crises and victories, sadness and joy. My greatest joy was to take care of my parents from 2000 until their passing in 2006 (Mother) and 2007 (Dad). My favorite thing to do is to explain to someone the teachings of the Baha’I Faith. Here are my other favorite things: my favorite passage from the Holy Writings is the “Tablet of Carmel”; song is “Give of the Best to Your Master”; prayer is for firmness in the covenant of God; candy is a tie between candy corn and Twizzler’s cherry licorice; dance is the ‘chicken’ movement of the Ewe people and color is yellow. I only wanted to become an example of a dedicated Baha’I life. See you all later!”