John Norman Ingram
September 13, 1926 – June 13, 2020
John Norman Ingram September 13, 1926 - June 13, 2020
John Norman Ingram, 4th generation Floridian on both sides, passed away peacefully June 13, 2020 at his home in Palm Beach Gardens. "Norm", a self-educated entrepreneur, investor and combat World War II veteran was born in a tiny house in West Palm Beach just before the Great Depression. Shortly upon graduating from Palm Beach High School at 16, he joined the Navy in support of our nation's war effort against Imperial Japan. Assigned to the USS Waukesha AKA 84 as MM mate 3rd class, Norm and his shipmates witnessed the surrender of the Japanese Navy in Tokyo Bay on August 30, 1945 just before the official peace treaty was signed ending the war. Immediately following the surrender, the Waukesha travelled to Nagasaki, Japan. Because he was assigned to a landing craft attached to his ship, Norm was one of the first handful of sailors who went ashore in Nagasaki, witnessing the after effects of the atomic bomb devastation. It left a permanent mark on him. He was honorably discharged from the US Navy in 1945 as a petty officer first class and has been sharing his hard-earned wisdom that 'the worst peace is better than the best war" ever since. Norm formed lifelong friendships through shared service with fellow Waukesha veterans. At the age of 93, Norm outlived them all.
After a very short stint at the University of Miami, he quickly decided college was not for him. Back home at the age of 20, and to the great relief to his father, Earl, whose eye site was failing. Norm took charge of the small Ingram's grocery store his parents operated on Belvedere Road. Norman supported his parents and began a rapid five time expansion. In 15 years Ingram's Supermarket was by far the largest in Palm Beach County and the 4th largest in the southern United States. He excelled in retailing and merchandising. A precursor to the "Costco concept" under Norm's leadership, Ingram's was far more than a grocery store and way ahead of its time. Meanwhile he owned and operated Thrift Finance, Ingram's appliances, Ingram's restaurant, two satellite grocery stores in Lake Park and Riviera Beach, Belvedere five and dime, a chain of Ingram's paint stores, a night club, and a partnership in Hammond Shrimp Company, etc.
In 1961, Norm sold Ingram's Supermarket to a national chain and provided his parents Earl and Eula with a mortgage free home, financial independence and a comfortable retirement until they passed at the ages of 96 and 94.
In the midst of the rapid expansion of the Ingram's Supermarket and other businesses, Norm in his late 20's almost lost his life in a horrific automobile accident on Military Trail. With over 100 fractures and 30 complete broken bones, he was not expected to survive the night but through the grace of God and his will to survive, recover he did. He rehabbed at the Mayo Clinic to repair his broken body which set him on a lifelong path of physical fitness.
Norm took a keen interest in equities in his early 20's. He became proficient in equities, investing stocks, derivatives and options before the advent of the Chicago Board Options Exchange. Basically a self taught investor, he plowed through Securities Analysis by Graham and Dodd with a dictionary by his side. He forged a life long friendship with securities mentor, Palm Beacher James de Peyster.
After divesting himself of his various businesses in 1961 he turned totally towards equities, never saying he was retired at 35 years old. He would say instead, "I'm among the unemployed." Sitting around didn't suit Norm. Norm developed and operated small strip shopping centers, apartment buildings, and single family homes while tending to his equities.
Most importantly, in 1967, as a favor to a friend, he met his soul mate, Gail Rice on a blind date. The inseparable love birds were married a year later in 1968, in a simple ceremony that led to a most fulfilling and rewarding relationship that lasted on Earth for 52 years.
Norm loved to read, especially financial publications. He entertained his family, friends, and associates with his quick wit and vast repertoire of stories. He is remembered for his strength of character, his total honesty as a business partner, as an engaging and faithful husband and loving father, and for being always true to his word. He unselfishly guided many people about the preservation of capital. His humble roots as a poor boy who sold mangoes to buy his own shoes to wear to school and refused to take charity when offered was a part of who he was. He taught by example and encouraged hard work, fair business practices, thrift, and wise investment choices. He was magnanimous with his advice and time when he had nothing to gain, even when it was necessary to repeat himself many times so the lessons could finally sink in. Many individuals owe their financial security to Norm's wisdom and suggestions for how to achieve success in life.
He lived a life most of us would dream to live. One would need to spend only a short time with Norm to recognize he was a man who knew how to enjoy life and how to get things done. Norm never considered himself to be book smart, yet you could not spend more than a few minutes with him without learning something new. He was a Palm Beach County pioneer and a pillar of strength for our local community.
Norm is survived by his loving wife of 52 years, Gail, daughters Ivy Larson and Dana Gillette, grandchildren Alex and Hayley Gillette and Blake Larson, sons-in-law Dr. Kenneth Andrew Larson and Chris Gillette.
Due to the coronavirus, there will be a private family religious ceremony for Norm followed by a Celebration of Life on December 5th, 2020 at his daughter Ivy’s home. In lieu of flowers, donations will be graciously accepted in Norm’s name to Hospice of Palm Beach County.
No public services are scheduled at this time. Receive a notification when services are updated.
John Norman Ingram
July 6, 2020
Thank you, Norm, for spending time working hard in your own special way to make life better for so many people who have come into contact with you over the decades.
Although I did not meet you until the 21st century, Gail has always told our group of college friends the most interesting things about your life and the now-historical eras you experienced, so it was easy for us to feel like we had known you all along. Your welcoming hospitality and good conversation were much appreciated and left us with good memories of time spent in your home(s).
Thank you, John Norman Ingram, for leading a life that exemplified our American ideals of success and that will continue to provide opportunities to others. Well done!
June 29, 2020
Gail, Ivy , and all the family,
I remember meeting Norm in 1979 or 1980 when you lived in Lake Park. He was a charming gentleman who welcomed new friends into your home.
Thanks to Panhellenic, we reconnected and I was able to say hello to Norm from time to time.
My sincere condolences to all.
June 28, 2020
First met Norman when he needed body work on his 69 Mach 1 Cobra Jet Mustang. We got it repaired and when replacing the stripe it went on upside down. Norm said no big deal there are more important things to fuss about than this. We kept in touch from then on after learning he was Navy as I was also. We have shared experiences over breakfast lunch etc. He had enough stuff to fill a book. It was an honor to know him and call him Shipmate. Lay aside your oar you have reached the other side.