Her name was Margaret Nordbye, and that day would have been her 102nd birthday had she not died the former August. Individuals gathered shouted out “independent,” “devoted,” “grateful,” “giving,” and “beautiful” when prompted for text to describe her.
They came to dedicate in her memory what could look the most trivial of objects — a shepherd’s crook about 8 ft in peak — but it was a fitting tribute to Norbye, who had spent some 60 a long time trying to keep check out above the neighborhood from her household on Linden Road.
“It symbolizes the very good shepherd, and she was a very good shepherd to all of us,” stated Joseph Pasquarelli, who lived across the avenue from Nordbye.
The crook was affixed to the vacant and outstretched ideal hand of a statue of St. Boniface that, until eventually lately, had spent practically 60 a long time on a pilgrimage of epic proportions just after being knocked off its perch outdoors the church by a fireplace that gutted the household of worship in 1957.
The return of the statue to the church in 2016 produced headlines for the reason that the tale of its travels was so unbelievable. Immediately after obtaining been carted absent with the rubble from the fireplace and reportedly positioned in storage to “rise yet again,” the statue disappeared.
It was only later pieced jointly that, above the a long time, the 800-pound effigy had stood in the backyard garden of a Penfield household, on an auction block to profit community tv, as a novelty outdoors a Livingston County antique store, and who is aware the place else.
The odyssey of the statue was not contrary to that of the genuine St. Boniface, an English monk who surfaced below and there in what is now Germany, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands, introducing Christianity to the masses in advance of being killed by marauding robbers in 754.
His eponymous statue, at first a sheen of ghostly white, was at some issue painted red and white, providing it the look of a gargantuan backyard garden gnome or a scraggy Santa Claus, and the Bible clutched in its ideal hand was painted black.
But when the statute was returned to the church by the antique dealer who researched its provenance and donated it to the parish, the outstretched ideal hand of St. Boniface was vacant — its team, or what is identified in the church as a crozier, obtaining evidently been dropped to time.
Nordbye, a devout Catholic and parishioner at St. Boniface considering the fact that transferring to the neighborhood in 1953, could not get more than enough of the tale of the statue’s sojourn. She cherished her church and carried with her memories of that horrible fireplace in a intellect that her neighbors described as a steel entice.
All the a long time that the statue was missing, Nordbye acted really much like the genuine St. Boniface, ministering in her own way to hundreds of individuals in and all around Rochester, including a great number of in the South Wedge.
Nordbye (pronounced nord-BEE) shipped scorching lunches and chilly dinners as a volunteer with the Going to Nurse Service’s Foods on Wheels plan for 45 a long time, many of these a long time spent at the same time shuttling meals and serving to coordinate the agency’s 900 volunteers. In advance of she died, she was regarded as a “lifetime volunteer.”
“She just is somebody who can always be counted on,” the agency’s director of volunteer providers, Carol Zoltner, stated of Nordbye in 1991. “If there’s a want for somebody, she is always ideal there to fill it.”
Nordbye also gave of her time at the Lady Scouts, Monroe Neighborhood Clinic, the Rochester Psychiatric Center, and the Genesee Meeting of Senior Citizen Directors, an corporation that advocated for the aged.
In her later a long time, while, her neighbors stated, it was from the entrance porch of her Linden Road household that she ongoing her outreach. From there, they stated, that Nordbye drew neighbors into each individual other’s orbits with greetings, tales, news of the neighborhood.
She was a fixture on that porch, frequently with a friend of hers, Jessie Reuter, who had a standing for driving her Chevrolet Impala all around the neighborhood to make confident all was in purchase. The pair were being identified to some as “the shepherd” and “the sheriff.”
“I really do not know if ministering is the ideal phrase, but I would say she ministered from her porch daily,” stated Kristana Textor, who lives across the avenue from the place Nordbye resided. “She would sit on her porch and have interaction with passersby in almost a dropped art of discussion.”
“The porch,” Textor extra, “almost turned a magical location.”
Nordbye was born Margaret Gillen on Jan. 14, 1919, and raised one particular of nine youngsters in an Irish Catholic loved ones in Carbondale, Pennsylvania, a modest town outdoors Scranton.
Her independent streak manifested alone early, when as a teenager she did a thing several girls of her technology did — moved absent and went to school.
She relocated to New York City and attended Browne’s Business Higher education in Brooklyn. From there, she uncovered function in 1942 at the previous American H2o Will work and Electric Co. in Manhattan, the place she achieved the person who would grow to be her partner, Earl Nordbye, in accordance to their engagement announcement in The Scranton Times.
He was a soldier in the Army Sign Corps from North Dakota with knowledge in radio restore and electrical function. She was a Grey Girl with the American Purple Cross, doing then what she would do in some form the rest of her life — being a friend to the ill and wounded. Potentially fittingly, they were being married at the Church of the Fantastic Shepherd in Manhattan.
The Nordbyes in no way had youngsters, but their lives were being full with function and volunteering and buddies and loved ones until eventually Earl died unexpectedly in 1976. Several years in advance of his loss of life, the newspaper in Scranton documented that they had taken in an ailing aunt of hers who would die in their household.
Nordbye in no way remarried and lived on your own for the remaining forty four a long time of her life in the household they bought jointly. But, as her buddies recalled, she was hardly ever lonely.
She assisted neighbors shovel driveways and rake their yards, and when she turned way too frail, a new technology of neighbors did hers for her. When they did, they could assume a handwritten thank you card in penmanship as neat as a pin.
Nordbye prayed for her neighbors, way too. Even the unfaithful, neighbors stated, uncovered solace in her business on the porch, the place she sat seemingly to them all around the clock, spinning yarns, welcoming strangers, being a very good neighbor.
Pasquarelli, who realized Nordbye for 29 a long time, stated she embodied a life of provider.
When she died, he recalled, neighbors needed to do a thing to memorialize her, but absolutely nothing they regarded seemed like the ideal thing.
The ideal thing would dawn on Pasquarelli for the duration of a walk previous St. Boniface Church, the place the outstretched hand of the patron saint of Germany beckoned a thing to hold, a thing to lean on, a thing to support him shepherd the neighborhood.
David Andreatta is CITY’s editor. He can be arrived at at [email protected]