March 10, 2004 was the passing of Doug Norberg, a man well remembered in the community.
Douglas Delbert Norberg was born March 17, 1932 in Kamloops, a proud son of the late Ollie Curtis ‘Norberg’ and Alvin Norberg. Doug and his brother Reg and family moved from Kamloops to Williams Lake in 1942 and have stayed here ever since.
Douglas, also known as Dougie, Snoose, Little Chief, or Papa Smurf lived a very colourful and fulfilling life. He was definitely known for his unique sense of humour, laugh, and charm, along with generosity. It was guaranteed that when you saw him, you would have a laugh.
As a youth, Doug enjoyed ranch work, riding horses and cows, and the sports of hockey, badminton, boxing, golf, and softball. At age 15 he obtained a good horse and he and his cousin Harry Curtis rode horses to Horsefly where they worked on the Kellog Ranch for the summer.
Back at school in the fall, Doug started working in the auto body shop of Williams Lake Motors after school and weekends. Art Evans, owner of the garage, and Joe Girvan, body shop manager, took an interest in Doug and set him up on an apprenticeship program. At that time, Joe also introduced Doug to a pinch of snuff, and Doug acquired the nickname ‘Snoose.’
Eventually Doug finished school and went on to obtain his auto body mechanic certification. Eventually he went on to be the owner of Norberg Motors, a well-known car dealership, which started in 1968. Norberg’s was run the way Dougie lived his life. In the olden days the people you dealt with in business were your neighbours, friends, and family. Williams Lake was a small community then and the Chilcotin was its backyard. Everyone knew everyone and that was the way Norberg’s was run.
Dougie treated his customers with respect and his staff as family. You could always count on a drag before payday and if you broke down and needed to get going, the mechanics worked well into the night.
Norberg’s was also a gathering place for coffee, spirits, poker games, and parties. The new car showing in September was a gala event with the cars and staff decked out in their finery. It was a big event back then with the windows papered up and everyone in town waiting to see the new models.
March 17, St. Patrick’s Day, Doug and Steve Suetta, the sales manager, both celebrated their birthdays. They wore green boutonneires and served doughnuts and coffee to everyone.
We’re sure there was more than cream in some of those coffees. Somehow, with all of this going on, the work still got done.
The staff worked well together and Dougie sponsored many an apprentice who has gone on to being a mechanic, a body man, or to run a shop of their own. He was well liked as a boss and respected by all his staff.
It would be safe to say everyone worked for the man and not the company. He trusted everyone but in those days you could. A handshake as all that was necessary. He had his business in a time when people were the most important part of a business and he was a great “people” person.
In 1952 Doug married Juanita Haines and together they had four children — Marlene, Laura, Blaine, and Opal. They spent 20 years together.
In 1976 the union began with Doug and Judy Christensen. Together they spent 17 years and had a daughter, Shannon. Many people experienced the door that was always open to their home on Western Avenue.
Doug lived at the Cariboo Lodge for the last two years. He was very well liked of course by the residents, as well as the staff. Very soon he was known for his teasing and joking. Doug had a very uplifting effect on the place.
The family would like to thank the staff and nurses at the Cariboo Lodge for the sincere care and safety they gave to Doug. The family appreciates everything they did to comfort him on good days and bad. Doug suffered from dementia. These years were very difficult for Doug, his family, and friends, but everyone made the best of it.
The family would also like to thank the many people who made donations to the Heart and Stroke Foundation and Cariboo Foundation Hospital Trust in lieu of flowers.