Former lawmaker, activist dies
Norma Thorp, the last De Soto resident to represent the community in the Kansas Legislature, died Saturday at the Olathe Medical Center.
Thorp was 77. (See obituary, Page 2).
Thorp moved to De Soto to be near her parents after a teaching at the high school and college levels. Her enthusiasm for education never waivered.
"She served on the site council for several years," said former De Soto USD 232 Superintendent Marilyn Layman. "She was an educator herself and was very involved through the school district.
"Norma was ever so supportive of the school. She cared so much about people. Children in particular -- educating children."
De Soto High School Principal Debbie Lynn said Thorp was a great resource for the four years she has been principal.
"In the last four years, she has always been there with wonderful, intelligent insight to current educational situations," Lynn said. "She's just phenomenal."
Lynn also said Thorp was very quiet about all of her accomplishments.
"She's so unpretentious and so humble," she said.
Leon Coker, a friend of Thorp, said he had known her for about 30 years.
"We were great friends," Coker said. "When she was running for state representative, I worked on her campaign."
Thorp was appointed to replace Judith Macy in the Kansas House of Representatives before the 1993 legislative session. A Democrat, she lost the general election to Gardner Republican John Ballou in the 1994 general election.
Thorp's neighbor Addie Austin remembered Thorp as a close friend and a person who cared about the community and its residents.
"We were good neighbors," Austin said. "She lived across the street from me, and her mother lived there before her.
"She was a Silver Cat and also worked for the Catch a Ride. She volunteered to drive people who needed a ride."
Thorp was also heavily involved in the De Soto United Methodist Church, Austin said.
The Rev. Noel Stephens said although he did not know her well, she did some great things for the church.
"At one point in time before I came, she paid for one of our beautiful stained glass windows through a memorial in her mother's name," Stephens said.
Scott Seitter, who was Thorp's lawyer, said Thorp left her entire estate to Baker University. The money would be used for a scholarship fund.
And according to Thorp's will, the scholarship money will be available to single mothers who demonstrate financial need.
Lynn said she thought Thorp was someone people could look to for motivation and to be able to make a difference.
"She's an inspiration to all educators," Lynn said. "She's a good role model, and I'm going to miss her."