Norman Henry Oliphant, 92, of Salt Lake City, Utah, a devoted husband, a loving brother, an earnest learner, and a dedicated father who consecrated his life to God and his family graduated to the next stage on November 22, 2023 after living a rich and full life.
Norman was called on a mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to the Eastern States and entered the training center in 1951 only to be called home by the Orem draft board and drafted in December to the Korean War. He served as a telephone repair engineer for 2 years at El Toro Marine airfield near Santa Ana CA. In March of 1954 he received another call to serve in the Brazil mission where he labored in Campinas, Bauru, Curitiba, Ponte Grossa, Jau, Ipomeia and Londrina and helped build the first permanent chapel for the Church in Brazil. He returned home to Orem in December 1956. In spring of 1957 he met Elizabeth Fern Allphin at a church dance as her family had just recently moved from Wyoming into the ward. His connection to Elizabeth began to steer his life as he spent the next two years completing his BA in music education until the two were married on August 14, 1959 and he formally graduated from BYU one week later.
They spent the next 9 years moving around towns across Utah from Monroe to Roosevelt while Norman taught music in local schools. During this time, he also spent one pursuing a Master's degree in Music education from BYU during 1963. Elizabeth gave birth to 5 children during these years: Pauline (1961), Lynnette (1962), Kerry (1964), Melanie (1965), and Lisa (1967) . While Norman loved music, teaching music to pre-teens and teenagers was not Norman’s calling in life. In 1969, the family moved to Salt Lake City so that Norman could switch careers, taking one year to get an Associate Degree in computer science from Stevens-Henager college. He finished just before their 6th child, Trent (1970), was born. Norman was able to find steady work as a programmer and the family moved to Taylorsville where Travis (1971), Kendall (1973), Laura (1975), and Tyler (1977) were born.
Norman worked with computers until 2001 with his longest and most stable programming position working for various departments in Salt Lake City including the Police Department from 1975 to 1997. Norman’s logical, patient, and creative mind found a sustaining home in programming computers. During lean years while he taught school and went back to school, he would often supplement the family income by laying carpet, hanging dry-wall, and doing other paid jobs. His father instilled in Norman a love for the earth and its bounty and he worked diligently nearly every year to maintain a garden and store-up the surplus by canning and drying fruit and vegetables often obtained at a discount from relative’s surplus.
Norman’s intense curiosity, engineering attitude, and frugal foundation would permeate his life and lead to a lifetime of one-of-a-kind projects including a food-dryer from plywood, heating elements, and a fan; a lawn-mower-and-lumber kid-car; home-made tire-and-foam winter-boot mukluks; plastic-bag clothing accessories; and seemingly endless systems for irrigating a garden with PVC pipe and drip hoses.
In both lean and full times, he joyfully watched the deeply talented Elizabeth
Families and the bonds between us are the most important thing in this life and into eternity. Develop his love of music with all of his children. His early musical beginnings within his childhood home transformed in her care to a resonant harmony as each child learned to sing and play sometimes multiple instruments. He and Elizabeth and the children would sing and play regularly both individually and together for church services, shows, concerts, and especially for relatives in their homes at Christmas time. As spouses were added, several joined the “choir” which culminated in a memorable musical program the family took to multiple venues in Utah, California, and Arizona between 1993 and 2001.
The family moved from Taylorsville to Cottonwood Heights in 1994 and over the next 30 years several of his children moved near him and so he enjoyed close family relationships all during this time. Norman retired in 2006 to take care of Elizabeth full-time as she began to suffer the effects of serious diabetes-induced infections leading eventually to full kidney failure in 2010. Norman said of this time that it was his greatest honor to care for her, who he saw as the greatest blessing of his life. When Elizabeth went ahead to the next life on August 31, 2010, he found great solace in continuing frequent family interactions with his children and friends living nearby.
Norman spent the last 13 years of his life joining his passion for computers and his love of family by volunteering as a family history missionary helping people discover their local connection to the family of Adam, and helping them do their part to prepare a computerized record “worthy of all acceptation”. His devoted commitment to his calling as a family-history service-missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints continued even until the Friday 4 days before his final breath as he answered help-line phone calls from Family Search patrons.
A naturally shy and introverted person, Norman would often share that “to be self-conscious is to be conscious of the wrong person” and he personified that phrase by living his life for others. His life's work was truly to better the lives of his family which he pursued relentlessly until the last few days of his life. This work extended to his ancestors and their descendants as far back as he could pursue through the Family Search program of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. His Legacy is truly his family and he will live forever through them.