Lemon Cove veteran survived typhoon, WWII then traveled the world
A Lemon Cove veteran who survived a typhoon and witnessed the Japanese surrender aboard the USS Missouri will be laid to rest this weekend.
A memorial service will be held for Norman Robert Polly at the First Christian Church of Visalia, 1023 N. Chinowth, on Saturday, Oct. 19 at 10 a.m. Norman passed away of Pneumonia on Oct. 12 at the age of 91, after a long and full life.
He was born Oct. 16, 1922 in Lemon Cove, to Bert and Ella Polly. Growing up in the Lemon Cove areas close to the river, Norman became an excellent swimmer, and enjoyed many hours with his friends at McKay’s Point, Terminus, and Slick Rock. His mother cooked for the work crews at the Marks Ranch, and he never grew tired of her fried chicken, mashed potatoes, and gravy.
After attending Lemon Cove Elementary School, he graduated from Exeter High School in 1940 and College of the Sequoias in 1942. Norman then joined the U.S. Navy in October 1942 and served in the South Pacific
during World War II aboard the USS Iowa, USS San Diego, and USS Duluth. He survived Halsey’s Typhoon, and was aboard the USS Missouri as part of the delegation that accepted the formal surrender of Japan. He was also one of the first 20 Americans to land on the Japanese mainland after the surrender.
Norman and Jean Wolfsen were married in March 1945, and started a citrus ranch on property in Lindcove. They had two sons, James and Richard. Following Jean’s death in 1965, Norman and Marion Runciman were married in 1966, and moved back to Lemon Cove.
After being discharged from the Navy in November 1945, Norman began working with the California Department of Employment (now called Employment Development Department) in Visalia, and transferred to the Porterville office where he worked his way up to manager of the office serving in Porterville for 28 ye
ars. During his years in Porterville, he was a member of the Chamber of Commerce and served as chairman of the Industrial Committee. He was also a member of Rotary Club and received the Paul Harris Award for Outstanding Service. During his tenure, the office helped Porterville improve its economic prosperity and attract investment in both industry and agriculture.
Norman was a member of Sunkist Growers since 1947 and was proud to be a long-time member of the Sierra Citrus Association marketing cooperative in Lindsay. He was a member of the Lemon Cove Presbyterian
Church. Recently moving to Visalia Norman began attending the First Christian Church.
After his retirement, Norman and Marion enjoyed traveling, to Ireland, Scotland, England, Russia, Ha
wai’i, Israel, and Turkey. They had many friends, and often hosted gatherings at their home. After Marion’s death, Norman continued to travel, mostly to visit family in Arizona and Northern California, and often entertained at home. Fridays were special, he could be found having lunch with a group of close friends at Ann Lang’s Emporium in Three Rivers. He also loved to garden and was very proud of the beautifully landscaped yard he and Marion established at Lemon Cove. He loved to give away flowers and citrus that he grew. He could be found appreciating the groves and watering his beloved plants right up until the last few months.
Norman was preceded in death by his parents, Bert and Ella Polly, brothers Raymond and Orval Polly, sister Pearl, stepson Jere Runciman, wife Jean, and wife Marion. He is survived by Jim and Carolyn Polly of McKinleyville, Richard and Mary Polly of Tucson, stepdaughter and son-in-law Martha and Jim Mosely
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations may be made to the First Presbyterian Church of Lemon Cove, P.O. Box 44348, Lemon Cove, CA 93244; or to the First Christian Church of Visalia, 1023 N. Chinowth, Visalia, 93291. Condolences can be made at www.smithfamilychapel.com. Arrangements by Smith Family Chapel, Exeter. of Visalia, grandchildren Sam (Flor) Polly, Mary (Cliff) Hillier, Jon Polly, Stacy Polly, and 12 great-grandchildren.