Liz Norris at age 16
Liz Norris at work at the Creamery
Three generations of Norris women worked at the Creamery
Liz Norris at her retirement party in 2001
Elizabeth “Liz” Zuccala Norris passed away on December 24, 2012 at the age of 84. She started working at Rogue Creamery right after Pearl Harbor when she was 16 years old and retired from Rogue Creamery in 2001. Helen McCann is Elizabeth’s daughter and also works at Rogue Creamery. Helen says of her mother, “Rogue Creamery and the kids were my Mom’s whole life.”
Elizabeth’s husband, Helen’s dad, died in 1969, leaving four kids still at home. “My Mom supported the whole family by working at the Creamery,” says Helen. There were lean years and Helen remembers lots of potatoes for supper - potato soup, boiled potatoes, roasted potatoes, and also milk: “Mom brought home a gallon of milk every day, all the workers got to bring home milk; it had cream floating on top.”
“At the start, my Mom worked in the plant making cheese right along with the guys,” Helen remembers. “It was hard work.” Later Liz moved to packaging and then to working in the Cheese Shop, where she saw lots of changes. “She knew how to do everything because she did everything,” Helen notes.
At different times, three generations of the Norris women worked at the Creamery under then owner Gaetano “Tom” Vella, Elizabeth teaching them the Rogue Creamery ways. Tom’s wife, Zolita remarked on Liz’s character in a 1999 letter: “One of the virtues Mr. Vella valued greatly in his life was loyalty and virtue, which you have in abundance. He praised you for it in his lifetime and I commend you for it now.”
Liz loved working in the Cheese Shop’s retail environment. “My Mom would see people around town, and everyone would know who she was,” her daughter recalls. “She had a million customers who knew her name.” Liz knew who her customers were too, and Helen remembers her mom saying, ‘She wants a two pound sharp, this one wants a one pound blue,’ knowing what her customers wanted as they walked in the door.
The Norris women have Rogue Creamery cheese in their blood, and Helen, who’s been at the creamery since 1973 loves working here as much as her mom did. “I don’t remember her smelling of cheese when she came home at night, but she must have,” Helen laughs, “Because my kids tell me that I do.”
Rogue Creamery celebrated Elizabeth Norris at the Creamery at a retirement party in 2001 and today, Cheesemaker and Co-owner David Gremmels honors Elizabeth Norris’s memory and many contributions to the Creamery: “There was a very special relationship between Liz and Rogue Creamery and the community. She’ll be missed.”
Here's a link to Mail Tribune article on Elizabeth Norris's retirement from Rogue Creamery, then Rogue River Valley Creamery in 2001.
Here's a link to the Mail Tribune notice of Elizabeth Norris's passing on December 24, 2012.