The Tibbetts family established the Norma Ruth Tibbetts Foundation at Truman Heartland Community Foundation to honor Norma Tibbetts' memory and devotion to the community.

Norma's commitment will continue to grow over the years, providing annual contributions to THCF's Community Grants program. The THCF Community Grants Program supports numerous local nonprofit projects in the areas of health, education, and community betterment.

Norma Ruth Tibbetts
Norma Ruth Tibbetts (1946-2023)

Norma Ruth Tibbetts was born September 27, 1946, in Maryville, Mo. She had a lifelong love of history and pursued her BA in History at Northwest Missouri State College, graduating summa cum laude in 1968. On July 1, 1967, she married Charles "Wayne" Tibbets and worked as a substitute teacher until her son Scott was born. When Wayne was discharged from his Air Force service, the small family moved to Independence, Missouri.

Daughter Kari was then born, and the Tibbetts became a Midwest family of four. Norma taught ESL and was a substitute teacher in the Independence School District, an active member of the PTA, a Cub Scout Den mother, and a Girl Scout leader. She even wrote a book of poetry entitled "The Invisible Child."

Norma was a devoted Independence First Christian Church member, serving as an elder and minister, Sunday School teacher, a member of the choir, and participated on numerous church committees. The people living and serving in the area were important to her, and she made time to give her time to help those in need. Norma advocated for hope as a pancreatic cancer survivor, regularly volunteering on the Bloch Cancer Foundation hotline.

In 2001, after seeing a need, Norma established "Tabitha's Closet," a clothing bank for students at Proctor Elementary School. Over time, Tabitha's Closet grew to serve all K-12 students in both Independence and Fort Osage School Districts, providing five complete outfits (including shoes) to more than 2,000 children twice per year, every year.

Norma Tibbetts, left, and Patty Cox | Jeff Fox/The Examiner
Norma Tibbetts, left, and Patty Cox volunteering at Tabitha's Closet | Jeff Fox/The Examiner

Following her retirement in 2016, The Closet has continued to grow and thrive. In its 21 years, more than 30,000 children have been provided with enough clothes to feel confident and comfortable in the classroom, in every season. Norma loved children from all walks of life and was passionate about making her community a better place for them to grow up.

Norma passed away peacefully at home on May 25, 2023, surrounded by her loved ones.

Tax-deductible donations can be made to the Norma Ruth Tibbetts Foundation HERE. A celebration of her life will be held on August 26 at a location yet to be determined.