Jerry Lee Norman

16 July, 19367 July, 2012

Jerry L. Norman, 75, died in Seattle on July 7. He is survived by his wife, Stella Chen Norman, a brother, sister, children, grandchildren, and many dear friends. He was a teacher and a scholar.

The funeral will be at Acacia Memorial Park in Seattle (map) on Tuesday, July 10 and 10:30 AM. A memorial is planned for later in 2012.

In lieu of flowers, please donate to the Pulmonary Fibrosis Foundation ( or a charity of your choice.


  • Funeral Service

    Tuesday, 10 July , 2012


Jerry Lee Norman

have a memory or condolence to add?

Lee Clow

2 October 2012

When I first started at UW I was having trouble registering for first year Chinese as it had been filled up. Chen Laoshi told me that a new section had opened up and we would be getting a special treat, Dr. Norman would be teaching first year Chinese to us.
I've never had a more talented and patient language teacher. His demeanor was always supportive. He always had time, even for the newest Freshman on campus. I feel honored to have had the opportunity to learn from such an esteemed scholar. He will be missed by all his former students.
I offer my condolences to his family and my eternal gratitude to Dr. Norman himself.

Stevan Harrell

21 September 2012

I had the honor and perhaps the audacity to call Jerry a colleague, even though he was the most professional of linguists and I a mere amateur dabbler. Still I relish the times I sat with him and talked Min vocabulary and such arcana. He was not only modest and unassuming in his erudition, as so many have said, but he always gave the impression of having *fun* with Chinese and its dialects. I also loved his book on Chinese, which I still consult whenever my language-geek personality takes over.

Stella Laoshi, and your children, please accept my inexcusably late condolences.

John Yu

8 September 2012

When Dr. Norman passed away, I was in China, where I could not get access to the internet. I was deeply saddened to learn it. Dr. Norman was a great scholar and wonderful teacher, as well as a kind mentor. I remembered a story just after I arrived in Seattle. Dr. Norman took Janet and I went to visit an aquarium. Right after we got off the bus, we started to run. According to Chinese culture, we should fight for buying the tickets regardless we had the money or not. Of course Dr. Norman bought the tickets for us. He laughed and said: “I am very happy to bring you to the aquarium, but just don't let me run that much!” Dr. Norman was just like a great friend although he was really my respectful teacher. While I was at UW, he was always very kind and friendly. Dr. Norman was a great scholar. I always think it would be great if I know a small part of what he knew. After I started to teach at Princeton University, Dr. Norman kept close contact with me to help my dissertation. He gave me strong influences in many ways. I will miss Dr. Norman a lot. My deepest condolences to Chen Laoshi and the family.

South Coblin

22 July 2012

Beeimen and I first met in January 1971. Since then, forty-one years have elapsed; and during that time our lives have been linked in innumerable ways both personal and intellectual, to a degree that often seemed to both of us almost uncanny. Now fate has ordained that we must part, and for me the path ahead appears cold and desolate. But perhaps it will still be brightened in some small measure by the memories that will live on as long I have life. Vechnaya pamyat'.


Frank Conlon

21 July 2012

I was out of the country when Jerry passed away and learned only today of this sad occasion. I was not a specialist on China or linguistics, but in the world of Asian Studies at the University of Washington, I quickly came to admire Jerry for his quiet, friendly and engaging approach to his colleagues and his students. He wore his learning lightly--a model that many of his
students inculcated and that we all might do well to copy. I extend albeit belately my condolences to Stella and Jerry's wider family, and share in the grief of a wide world of friends, who may also draw comfort from having had the privilege of knowing Jerry, even for a short while.

Mark Asselin

21 July 2012

An excellent scholar and superb teacher, Jerry Norman was also one of the most decent people I knew. When I began my graduate program at the University of Washington, I had the distinct honor and pleasure of taking his introductory Manchu course along with what he jokingly (maybe not) called the largest group of Manchu speaking-people in the world--the other beginning Manchu students in the class. He was exceedingly patient with us. Much later in my lengthy graduate career I was thrilled to take his Chinese historical phonology courses. I was grateful to him for his gentle corrections and his easy laugh. As a premodern literature student, everything I did that related to rimes and sounds of the period on which I worked was shaped by those classes (even if he might have wanted to dissociate himself from my efforts!). With a smile, I remember one summer in Taiwan many years ago Grace telling humorous stories of home life with her dad, while we labored in a English textbook “sweatshop” run by one of Professor Norman's former grad students. Lastly, I fondly recall an evening cracking, smashing, and devouring Old Bay-seasoned Maryland blue crabs at a crabhouse up the road here in Bethesda with Professor Norman, his wife Stella, and another of his former grad students, David Branner (and one of David's colleagues)--it must have been several years ago now. That was the last time I saw him. I will always remember Jerry Norman for his dedication to studies, for the faith that he gave witness to through his actions (even if I only knew of his religious persuasions secondhand), and for his generous spirit. My sincere condolences especially to his wife and children.

Janet Xing

16 July 2012

Jerry was the kindest, modest, and most generous scholar that I have ever known in my life. I love his voice, his laugh, and of course the lectures that he gave our students on Chinese languages, linguistics, and dialectology at WWU. He will be deeply missed by us all.

Stuart Aque

15 July 2012

Prof. Norman was a great scholar, a great teacher, and an even better person. He was my teacher at the University of Washington. I was a mediocre student at best, but he was always extremely understanding, patient, helpful and kind. Throughout my struggles he was always encouraging and would constantly reassure me that everything would be fine. During the eulogy at his service a very private and personal side of Prof. Norman was discussed: His strong faith and deep spiritual nature. While this may have been an extremely private aspect of Prof. Norman, it clearly manifested itself in his way of being. I always considered Jerry to be a friend and I was very fortunate to have him in my life.

Michael Shapiro

12 July 2012

Jerry Norman was both an extraordinary scholar of Asian linguists and a wonderful teacher and friend. Our Department of Asian Languages and Literatures, as well as the University of Washington, has lost a treasured colleague. I and my wife Jo extend our heartfelt sympathy to Stella and the rest of the Norman family at this time of loss.

Alexander Vovin

12 July 2012

Prof. Norman was one of the greatest Western specialists in the Manchu language. His everlasting contributions to Manchu lexicography as well as to the historical Manchu and Tungusic phonology cannot be overestimated.

Alexander Vovin
University of Hawai'i at Manoa/National Institute for Japanese Language and Linguistics