Songbird Prior mourned


Joseph Pratt

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When considering the foundation of society, education could easily be considered the force that makes everything possible, which puts teachers in a place of utmost importance. Teachers are some of the first role models for children, and their actions can put a thirst for knowledge in a student that lasts a lifetime. There are an abundance of great teachers in the many communities in, and surrounding, Scioto County. One of who was Norna Prior, whose loss is currently being mourned in the South Webster community and surrounding areas.

Prior passed away at 90 last Saturday, with her friends and family telling their stories of her since.

The educator had accumulated more than 50 years of friendships, bonds, and memories as a music teacher at South Webster. She also had over 75 years devoted to playing piano for various community and church events.

Prior had served her community in many capacities, having been involved with numerous civic and social and community organizations over the years. Most recently, she served as an officer in the Business and Professional Women’s Club, Scioto County Retired Teachers Association, Portsmouth Lions Club, Daughters of America Organization, Southern Ohio Performing Arts Council, Delta Kappa Gamma Teachers Organization and Hillview Retirement Auxiliary. She was also a volunteer on the spiritual leadership team at Hillview Retirement Center, where she volunteered several times a week in their music programs. She is also a namesake of the Prior-Keslar Scholarship, which is given to a deserving student each year at South Webster.

When Prior retired from teaching in 1994, Becky Climer took over the role of music instructor. Prior had been close to Climer’s music teacher and that friendship gave Climer the opportunity to mentor under her as well.

“I was honored to be asked to step into that position. I will always remember that the whole community loved music so much,” Climer said. “It is not much of an exaggeration at all to say that the whole community was taught music by Norna, because that is, literally, the truth. It is phenomenal to think she was there as long as she was.”

Throughout the years, Cline said she was blessed to know Prior and to learn from her. The lesson she cherishes the most, though, is a very simple one.

“It is easy to say what I learned from her the most,” Prior said. “She taught me to love the kids. She had such great love for her students and they always returned that love.”

Even after her retirement, Prior was very active in Scioto County education and music, especially in Bloom-Vernon Schools.

Prior’s love for students went to generations of students and remains today.

South Webster native Margie Green is mourning her loss this week and says that her memories and love of Prior live on within her.

“Norn Pryer was a musical inspiration to South Webster students for years. She inspired countless numbers of families. She taught not only one generation, but two, and, sometimes, three generations of students. She will be sadly missed by our community,” Green said. “She was my only music teacher, she was the first person to ever give me an appreciation for music. She was a wonderful teacher and loved her students, even when we were being rotten.”

Prior is also being mourned by her large church family. Beverly Bell is one of them who recalls singing her love of God with Prior for many years.

“Norna was the adhesive at the church in which I spent my childhood, and a lot of my adult life,” Bell said. “Directing the music at McDermott United Methodist Church, and all of the other entities she played piano for, was not a job; it was her life’s ministry. From one end of the county to the other, and most parts in between, she will be sadly missed by those who knew and loved her.”

Prior was buried in Rush Township Cemetery.

Reach Joseph Pratt at 740-353-3101, ext. 1932, or by Twitter @JosephPratt03.

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Submitted photo Prior (center) with the two music teachers to follow her at Bloom-Vernon, Becky Climer (left) and Rhonda Mays (right). At the time of the picture, the three ladies stood as the only vocal music instructors of Bloom-Vernon since 1940. photo Prior (center) with the two music teachers to follow her at Bloom-Vernon, Becky Climer (left) and Rhonda Mays (right). At the time of the picture, the three ladies stood as the only vocal music instructors of Bloom-Vernon since 1940.

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