Norma Jean Gardner, 92, died in Fairfax, Virginia of natural causes after a long and adventurous life.
Mrs. Gardner was born on April 23, 1920 in Brisbane, Australia to William and Jean Morris. Her beauty
graced the cover of magazines and she modeled for many years. Drawn together through musical talent,
she married Dr. Ralph B. Bell during World War II and in 1945 came to the US alone on the USS General
Butner which once was under fire slipping passed Japanese subs in the Brisbane River. The couple,
whose romance began as they sat side by side on a piano stool, married at the St. Andrew's Presbyterian
Church, Brisbane, Australia on August 15, 1944. Soon after, Dr. Bell was shipped to New Guinea and
then to the Philippines; later scheduled to report back to the US. While in a southwest Pacific port, Mrs.
Gardner was surprised when her new husband boarded the ship and accompanied her on the voyage.
She often joked about the first cup of tea served her by an American steward as having an odd object in
the cup; a tea bag. They first lived in Jacksonville, FL as Dr. Bell completed his military service and later
settled in the Washington, DC area where he practiced oral surgery and they raised three children.
Mrs. Gardner grew up and was educated in Brisbane. She enjoyed family holidays on the Gold Coast
where she treasured many adventurous memories. Mrs. Gardner was exceptional as one of the first
female journalists in Australia, working as a reporter for the Brisbane Tribute, where her most exciting
report came from her interview with Eleanor Roosevelt.
Throughout her life, she was proud of her Scottish and Australian heritage and was active in the Southern
Cross Club. While raising her family she was a journalist for small newspapers in Northern Virginia where
she often piled her children in the car to chase a fire story or some other exciting subject of local interest.
For many years she volunteered at the Kennedy Center and Fairfax Symphony Orchestra. She was an
avid reader. Mrs. Gardner later married Colonel Hamilton Gardner and enjoyed their last assignment
at Fort Shafter, Hawaii. They later retired in Bradenton, FL but she returned to Springfield, VA after his
death to be near her children.
She will remain forever in the hearts of those who loved her. Her brother, Ralph Morris of Tasmania,
Australia; son, Ralph B. Bell, Jr., (Lisa Cliff) Springfield, VA; daughter Jeanie Bell Winslow, (COL
Wendelin Winslow, Ret.) Fairfax, VA; daughter Pamela M. Swain (Bibb Swain), Sarasota, FL. Also,
her beloved cousin Stuart Pow, Brisbane, Australia and special "daughter" Doreen Bell. Her five
grandchildren, Adam Bell, Sara Popovich, Mary Gale, Lindsey Bell Hulse and Laura Bell. And her six
great grandchildren Alexander, Gavin, Andrew, Audrey, Emily and Matthew.
Family will receive friends on Tuesday, February 12th, 2013 from 9-10 AM, with a Christian service at
10 AM to follow at the Fairfax Memorial Chapel.
Burial will be at Arlington National Cemetery following the service.
Contributions in the memory of Mrs. Gardner may be made to Capital Caring Hospice, 2900 Telestar
Court, Falls Church, VA 22042.
Read Norma Gardner's Obituary and Guestbook on fairfaxmemorialfuneralhome.com.