Norman DeJong always gave his best and he lived a good life. He said, “I am the happiest man on the planet.” The ones that really knew him and loved him will have his touch on their heart forever.
Norm was born to Rudolph DeJong and Mary Ann Robins DeJong in Salt Lake City, Utah. His family moved to Richland, Washington when Norm was 2. He loved his parents and had huge respect for his amazing dad, Rudy, whose motto was “The job you do looks like you.” Norm was a good student, had great stories of his teachers, coaches and basketball and pole-vaulting in high school. He loved learning, had a great work ethic and achieved a fantastic education. He was a YoYo champion at 12. He won the National Art contest for metal sculpting two years in a row.
He went to BYU on a basketball scholarship and on a scholarship to Northwestern Dental School in Chicago. He worked nights as a nurse at Cook County Hospital four years while in dental school. Norm got his Masters in Public Health at Harvard and went to Oxford UK for a fellowship under the Minister of Health Admiral Holgate. While in England he had some pretty famous friends… Normie had great stories. Even John Lennon knew how special Norm was. Norm and he were friends and Lennon wanted Norm to go tour with them. Norm said no! He was not a musician… he was a dentist. After completing his fellowship, Norm became a dentistry professor at OHSU Dental School and with his love of teaching dentistry and masterful mechanical and technical skills he left OHSU to be on founding faculty at University of Connecticut Dental School. The dean of UConn then took Norm with him to Jackson, Mississippi as founding faculty at University of Mississippi Dental School. Norm loved Mississippi and made great friends there. He chaired the department and taught restorative dentistry to the first four graduating classes of UM dental school. He decided to leave academics in 1978 and head towards his hometown of Richland, Washington.
He remembered the beautiful little town of Prairie City, Oregon from smokejumper parachute firefighting when he was 19. He drove into the beautiful John Day Valley from the east and decided immediately that he wanted to practice dentistry in Prairie City. He bought the dental office building before the day was over. Norm and his dad Rudy transformed the historic building into his dental office. Doc Norm hung his dentistry shingle on the building in 1978. Norm absolutely loved being a dentist and he adored living and working in Grant County.
He loved the people and the beauty of Eastern Oregon. Norm left Grant County for four years. He used his public health background for Kotzebue Care and clinic building skills to help build a dental clinic in a new hospital in Kotzebue, AK. He helped provide dental care to the villages of Northwest Arctic Borough from ‘92 til April 1, 1996. He thoroughly enjoyed his arctic adventure. He recruited adventurous friend of 20 years, Melanie Lott, to work in the villages. Norm and Melanie fell in love and married in Ambler, Alaska at -48 degrees in 1994. They decided in 1996 to move back to Prairie City to remodel and reopen as a mom and pop dental shop. Mel and Norm loved working together and lived happily in Prairie City. Norm never used nitrous oxide but used natural laughter in the dental office. We liked to tell our new patients if you don’t have a good sense of humor you might have to find another dentist, hahah, wink, wink. We were Smile Maintenance. Norm enjoyed his patients so much.
Norm attended his Northwestern Dental School 50th year class reunion September 2017. His classmates and Norm had fun and shared fascinating stories. Norm loved motorcycles and nice cars. He actually restored a Cord automobile in his garage shop. He restored an Indian hill climber motorcycle on his bench just before he reopened his dental office in 1996. He was proud of partnering with Pat O’Hara to remodel the former Prairie Schooner Tavern turning it into Ferdinand’s Restaurant in 1987. Norm and Mel loved investing in Prairie City and enjoyed restoring the landmark Prairie Creamery as well. Norm enjoyed river rafting and pioneered and navigated many river-rafting adventures. He loved his family, friends and his dental patients of Grant and Harney Counties and beyond. He coached basketball and taught auto body at the high school. Norm was super supportive of all things good for Prairie City.
Norm loved the US Constitution and Bill of Rights and knew it backwards and forwards and could discuss its importance at great depth. He was a great patriot and stayed ultra-current on politics. He loved Thomas Paine’s Common Sense and his favorite quote was, “My religious belief teaches me to feel as safe in battle as in bed. God has fixed the time for my death. I do not concern myself about that, but to be always ready, no matter when it may overtake me. That is the way all men should live, and then would be equally brave.” - Stonewall Jackson
Norm is survived by his wife, soulmate and partner, Melanie; daughter, Kendyl DeJong; granddaughter, Melanie Trulove; grandson, Garrett DeJong; and two great grandchildren; brother, Lamont (Carolyn) DeJong and their family, Bryan (Lenora) Lott, James Gordon Lott, Bill (Donna) Lott, Sam Lott and Abby Starr (John Gavin) Lott-Buffington; cousins, Jimmy, James, Hannah, Mike and Mac Lott; and his constant companions, puppy dogs FangLee, Loosy Tooth and Flossy; and close friend, Karen Magee Jones, who was a God send during this time.
Norm was preceded in death by son, Matthew DeJong; his father and mother, Rudy and Ann DeJong; and brother, Robin DeJong.
Per Stormin’ Norman’s request, there will be no funeral service. There will be a motorcycle ride starting and ending downtown at the Prairie City Community Center meet at 11 a.m. Aug. 25. A joyful commemorative mingle celebrating Norm will follow at the PC Community Center at 2:30 p.m. with wildflower seeds to sow just before the snow flies and your pocket copy of the US Constitution from Norm. In lieu of flowers, donations in his name can be made to the Prairie City Community Association, PO Box 758 Prairie City, Oregon 97869 for Prairie City Community Center remodel.