Sylvan Abbey Funeral Home & Memorial Park

2853 Sunset Point Rd, Clearwater, FL



21 April , 19357 August , 2019

Norma Ann Lyda Felsmaier was born on April 21st, 1935 near Hendersonville, NC. Her parents were Edgar Lyda, second oldest son in a large family of eight, and Ruby Lucille Case Lyda who helped raise her three younger siblings when her mother became a single parent. Norma’s brother Forrest joined the family when she was four.

Norma spent much of her childhood in the country in several homes on a large tract of land originally deeded in the 1700s to her ancestor Jacob “the pioneer” Lyda. She and her brother and cousins had many adventures and misadventures. One of her favorite stories was of the time they, at Norma’s instigation, decided to dig a hole to China. Grandma Lyda switched them all for digging a hole in the barn so deep that the calf could have fallen in and broken a leg.

Norma’s family moved to Charleston SC just before her senior year of high school. She met William Franks, and they were married after her graduation. The couple moved to Florida where Bill worked for the Florida Power company. Debra Elaine was born in St. Petersburg, Carol Lynn in Live Oak.

In 1960, the family moved to tiny out in the sticks Oldsmar. Back then there was only marshland between Oldsmar and Tampa, and nothing but forest in the other direction between Oldsmar and Dunedin.

Norma was an active member of the First Baptist Church of Oldsmar. She taught Sunday School as well as Vacation Bible School. All her life she was a creative artist. Debra remembers entertaining Carol in her crib while Mom painted. She became quite accomplished at portrait painting and did several commissioned portraits.

Her craft projects were many. She sewed for herself and daughters as well as for their dolls. One Christmas morning, Debra and Carol woke up to homemade life sized boy dolls dressed in Carol’s clothes sitting at matching desks by the tree.

She and her best friend Sandra Grantham were very involved with the Masonic Order of the Eastern Star. Norma made herself beautiful white dresses and held various stations.

Norma spent most of her working career at Neilson’s Media Research. She became proficient in graphics and had become an executive’s personal assistant before she retired.

Norma enjoyed traveling with friends and family. Each grandchild was treated to a special trip with Gramma. Amy went to Prince Edward Island, setting of the Anne of Green Gables stories. Melissa, step-granddaughter, went to the Mall of the Americas. Dana went to Hawaii where Gramma sampled ukulele lessons. David went to California and was in the audience for The Price Is Right. John went to Rome and nearly got Gramma in trouble over a realistic toy pistol souvenir.

After Bill’s passing, Norma was happily married to Val Felsmaier. Since Val’s passing, Les Leiby has been her longtime significant other. All three men worked together at Florida Power. Les has been a good companion and was a great support when Norma had the care of her mother.

For many years, Norma divided her time between her children and their families here in Florida and her North Carolina home across the field from her mother’s house. She spent more time there as Lucille needed increasing assistance. Norma chauffeured her mother all over NC: to the Methodist conference center Juniluska, to numerous little back country churches where her mother served as a lay speaker, and to many other organizations. Eventually she and her mother returned together to Florida where Norma lovingly cared for Lucille for as long as possible. Debra and Carol had her fine example to follow when Norma herself needed care.

Norma passed peacefully in her bed at her home. Her family is grateful for her gentle passing. “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of his saints.” Psalm 116:15

Norma is survived by daughters and sons-in-law Debra and Paul McMaster, Carol and David Fields; grandchildren Amy McMaster, Dana McMaster, John and Nikki Whitcher; great-grandchildren Jacob, Jenna, and Jayla Whitcher; and longtime significant other Lester Leiby. Grandson David Whitcher predeceased Norma and welcomed her home in the morning of August 7th, 2019.

A Celebration of Life will be held at Bible Baptist Church, 280 Riviere Rd., Palm Harbor, Florida 34683 on Monday August 19, 2019 at 11:00am.

In lieu of flowers, donations in Norma's honor can be made to Suncoast Hospice Foundation either online or by check payable to: Suncoast Hospice Foundation, 5771 Roosevelt Blvd., Clearwater, FL 33760 or to the charity of your choice.


  • Memorial Service Monday, 19 August , 2019



have a memory or condolence to add?

Lorna Moore

16 August 2019

I'm sorry to hear of your mom passing. I will keep you and your family in my thoughts and prayers. My deepest condolences.


Annette Gordon

15 August 2019

Dear Debra and Family,

My sincere condolences; and may you be comforted by God's peace that surpasses all understanding. For to be absent from the body, is to be present with the Lord. May your loved one rest in heavenly peace.

Annette Gordon
FDLRS/Child Find

patty dellapiazza

12 August 2019

Deb and family

So Sorry to hear of your mother passing. I will always remember the great times at the tea parties. She will be missed