Norma G. (Hultgren) Sousa died peacefully on May 20 at her home in Edgartown. She was 89.

Norma was born Sept. 25,1930 in Meriden, Conn. to Gosta Torsten Hultgren and Tyra Lantz Hultgren, who had both immigrated separately from Goteborg and Jonkoping, Sweden in the 1920s and had settled in Wallingford, Conn.. Norma was baptized in the Lutheran Church and was a member of Zion Lutheran Church in Wallingford for many years. Her favorite hymn was Rock of Ages, Cleft for Me.

Norma was always proud of her Swedish heritage, but she said she felt so lucky to have been born in the United States, which she told us she knew was the greatest country in the world. She always flew the American flag with pride at her Edgartown home.

Norma grew up in Wallingford, Conn. with her parents and three brothers. She attended Lyman Hall High School. After high school, she went to work in the office of Wallace Silversmiths, a major manufacturer of sterling silver, where she met her future husband, Joseph Sousa, in the early 1940s. They were apart during Joseph’s service in the U.S. Army during World War II, but reunited after the war and were married in Brewster, N.Y. in 1949, settling together in Wallingford, and raising four children: Joseph, Debra, David and Bryan.

Norma worked at Stanley Judd, a division of Stanley Tools, for many years. She also worked at Safety Electric, where she was elected the first female union steward they had ever had. In that role, she successfully fought for better working conditions for her fellow workers. Throughout her life she was a champion of workers’ rights.

Norma moved to Martha’s Vineyard in 1988 to be closer to her daughter (Debbie), son-in-law (Bob), and her beloved grandson (Scott). She loved her life on Martha’s Vineyard, and cherished her home in Edgartown, which Bob helped build. Her personality was evident in how she decorated her home. The walls were filled with pictures of her children, grandchildren, great grandchildren and artwork she bought on her travels and at Vineyard art shows. She painted the walls herself, installed the fences, planted bushes and built the walkways from treasured found stones.

Norma worked for many years as an office manager at H.N. Hinckley and Sons in Vineyard Haven. She loved working for the Guyther family and always said Nelson Guyther was the best boss she ever worked for. Norma was a very friendly, caring person and enjoyed helping the many customers who came to Hinckley’s.

Norma loved children and had an innate ability to teach and connect with them. She taught Sunday School at the Zion Lutheran Church in Wallingford, and on Martha’s Vineyard she volunteered as a reading mentor at the Edgartown School. She later became a substitute teacher, working mostly working at the Edgartown School.

Norma was a great cook and loved to feed people, especially those she loved. Her lemon meringue pie, apple crisp, Christmas cookies and her awesome beef stew were second to none. She passed on her cooking skills and love of cooking to her daughter, Debbie. For many years, Norma was a member of the Grace Episcopal Church in Vineyard Haven, where she happily served her homemade soups at the church’s soup suppers.

She also volunteered at Sail Martha’s Vineyard when it was first beginning, for the Salvation Army, the Island Food Pantry and the Edgartown Council On Aging’s food distribution for the elderly program.

Norma’s favorite beach was Squibnocket Beach in Chilmark. Shortly after moving to Martha’s Vineyard she began driving up there on Saturday mornings with her dog, J.P., stopping first at Humphrey’s Bakery in West Tisbury to get a “Belly Buster” chocolate covered cream doughnut and coffee. She would sit on the rocks with her dog, coffee and doughnut and bathe in the beauty of that exquisite beach. It was a very spiritual place for her. She called it “God’s Little Acre.”

Norma loved to walk, and the Vineyard provided many beaches and trails for her to explore. In her early 80s she was still walking one or two miles a day on the bike path near her home. She also loved artwork, museums and traveling to new places. After retiring, Norma began visiting the Edgartown senior center where she joined the “Dock Street Hookers,” a rug hooking group. There she found new friends and learned to create primitive-style hooked rugs. She went on to make many treasured, beautiful rugs for herself and her family.

Norma is survived by her children, Debra, Joseph, David and Brian, many grandchildren and great grandchildren. She is also survived by her brothers Everett and John Hultgren. She was predeceased by her husband Joseph Sousa and her brother Milton Hultgren. 

Norma will be buried in a private family graveside ceremony in the Oak Grove Cemetery in Vineyard Haven. A celebration of her life will be announced at a later date.

In Norma’s memory, read a book to a child, bake your loved ones a special treat, or get a “Belly Buster” from Humphrey’s Bakery and enjoy it at Squibnocket Beach. Donations in her name can also be made to the Salvation Army online at

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