UPDATED: Stiglet was ‘compassionate, kind, and devoted’ to people of Hancock
By Dwayne Bremer
Oct 15, 2013, 20:35
Long-time Hancock County Coroner Norma Stiglet died Tuesday morning after complications from heart surgery. She was 79.
Known for her colorful personality, infectious smile, and easy-going demeanor, Stiglet will be remembered as a person who put her life on hold to help others.
"What a wonderful woman," former Hancock County Sheriff Ronnie Peterson said Tuesday. "Norma will be truly missed."
Stiglet got involved in public life when her late husband, Hancock Coroner Harold Stiglet, became sick in the mid '80s.
Norma began working as acting coroner when Harold was in the hospital and was appointed to succeed him when he eventually passed away.
In 1990, Norma ran for the open coroner's position and won. She served the next 20 years in that capacity.
Peterson, who worked with Stiglet for nearly two decades, said she was at her best when families were in despair.
"Norma had a gift," Peterson said. "Her greatest asset was knowing how to talk to the families. She knew how to talk to people and she knew how to ease their pain. She was always pleasant and professional, but she made sure that the families' needs came first."
Although her accomplishments were many, her greatest feats may have come in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in 2005.
Despite being in her 70s, Stiglet stayed on the job and helped identify every one of the 56 people killed during the storm.
"We had found a small travel trailer and Mrs. Norma had it put by Edmond Fahey Funeral Home a few days after the storm," Hancock County Chancery Clerk Tim Kellar said Tuesday.
"She lived and worked out of that trailer for months. She stayed on the job and was as dedicated as ever. She was always dedicated, but those weeks and months after the storm, showed just how dedicated she was. It was a huge task and she did not have too much help, but she got the job done."
After deciding not to run for re-election in 2012, Stiglet still found a way to help people.
For the past two years, Peterson said, she had been volunteering at Diamondhead Urgent Care.
"I think it gave her something to do and she loved it," he said.
Stiglet's daughter, Charlene Black, said Tuesday that the family has been touched by the outpouring of support they have received in the past few days.
"Momma loved everyone and it means a lot that people have said all of the wonderful things they have about her," Black said. "Our family greatly appreciates it."