In a world where it’s all about whom you know, Norma Stone had it all. Her resume would astonish even the savviest networker, with titles like Executive Secretary, Secretary to the Treasurer, Office Manager of the Staff, Secretary to the Senior Partner, and Executive Assistant decorating it. Norma Stone knew how to meet important people.
Her daughter, Brenda Paquette, agrees. “I’d say her biggest accomplishment was her ability to make everyone feel comfortable and totally at ease around her. She met Hillary Clinton once, through her many business contacts. Hillary was an attorney for the company she worked for at the time, and she managed to be introduced.”
Other encounters went beyond simple acquaintance—like the time Stone dated Jimmy Dean, the country crooner turned sausage king.
“Yes, the real Jimmy Dean,” Paquette said. “She was Secretary to the Senior Partner at Arthur Anderson, a huge accounting firm, where Jimmy Dean was a client. When he was in the office, she would fetch coffee for him and the executives, and I guess she made an impression. He called later that evening and asked if she would like to go to dinner. I was living with her at the time, and I remember him coming to the door. He picked her up in a limo and they went to dinner.”
Paquette says she also went out with Bob Hower, Tulsa’s first news anchor at Tulsa’s first television station, KOTV Channel 6. “He was a local celebrity at the time. Very handsome and dignified.”
But she eventually married Troy Stone, an avid hunter who left behind one of the largest private collections of mounted birds and animals when he passed away. In an effort to share his rare and unique collection, Norma donated it to the Oklahoma Aquarium in Jenks, the State Capitol building in Oklahoma City, and a Nature Center at the Hackberry Flat Wildlife Management Area.
After Stone retired from Arthur Anderson, the company was found guilty of criminal charges involving the Enron scandal, having shredded documents from their auditing of the energycompany.
“She was disgusted,” Paquette said. “She was so proud to have worked for so long for them. It was a prestigious company, and it was just destroyed by greed and people that were unscrupulous. All the employees that worked for this company lost their 401Ks, everything. People’s entire retirements were gone. One of the employees killed himself. It was huge. She was very disappointed.”
According to Paquette, Stone had many mantras to help guide her in confusing times.
“ ‘Just be easy,’ she would say. ‘Just be easy.’ It was something she said to remind us to calm down and be grateful, to let others be themselves and avoid getting too aggressive and upset. She would also say, ‘Don’t let things bother you. Before you know it, it will be the past.’
“She was so easygoing. In high school I was in a ton of rock and roll bands, and she would drive me to my gigs, even if they were like a hundred miles away. But she was always careful to not embarrass me—she’d stay in a hotel, away from me, just to keep me from being embarrassed. When I wanted a ride to the parking lot where my friends hung out, she would lay down in the seat so I’d look like I was by myself, not with my mother. She just wanted me to be happy. She was up for whatever.”