Berry, Norma Jean (Nichols)




June 23, 1941 – September 20, 2011




Norma Jean was born at home to Betty and Willard Berry in Riley County, Kansas. Norma was the older of two daughters, survived by her sister Wilma.

Norma attended the Riley County Rural School District and graduated from Riley County High School.

Norma married Larry Bennington in 1957 and gave birth to two children.

Diana Lynn Thurlow and her husband Michael of Bonner Springs, Kansas.

David Layne Bennington and his wife Betsy Bennington of Dallas, Texas. She is also the proud grandmother of Samantha Layne Bennington age 7.

During the next fifteen years Norma worked as wife and mother to her family. Norma and Larry had homes in Manhattan, KS., Whiting, IN., Tulsa, OK., Casper, WY., and Raytown, MO. Norma and Larry were divorced in 1976.

Norma married Richard “Dick” Nichols in 1977 and had two step children, Penny and Brent Nichols. Norma and Dick lived in Cheyenne, WY until their divorce several years later.

Norma moved to the Sheridan area where she has lived the last 25+ years of her life. Her professional career included: National Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Wyoming Business Rendezvous, State of Wyoming Economic Development Board, Chamber of Commerce for multiple cities, NJ Enterprises, and the Sheridan Heritage Center.

Norma was best known for her ability to always see the glass not as half full, but as always three quarters full. She had a friendly smile and a polite manner that allowed her to make friends easily and be an exceptional business woman. Norma never met a stranger.

A celebration of Norma’s life will be Saturday, September 24th at 10:00 AM at the Kane Funeral Home with Reverend Kevin Jones officiating. A gathering of family and friends will be held at the Sheridan Inn following the service.

In lieu of flowers, a small stone monument will be placed for Norma at the Sheridan Inn. Donations for Norma’s monument and in her memory may be made to Cowboy State bank and Trust.

Online condolences may be written at

Kane Funeral Home has been entrusted with the arrangements.



Addendum added for MHS classmates by Kathy Bryson Pizar ….
Original Message—–



From: Kathy Pizar <>

Sent: Sat, Jan 21, 2012 12:13 pm
Subject: Few thoughts on Norma Berry Nichols

Hi, All,
In looking at Norma Berry's obituary, I noticed first that the report of where she was born and raised is neither specific nor accurate. Per what she told me and approved to write on her Memory Book page, her family was five generations in Manhattan, KS. She was born in Manhattan, went through school there, and graduated with us from Manhattan High in 1958. Maybe we should footnote the obituary on the website to correct this info.
Although the photo we have in the Memory Book is more flattering, the attached one appeared with her obituary.
The story behind her association with the Sheridan Inn, built in 1892 and once owned by Buffalo Bill Cody, is an interesting one not described in the obituary. After various ups and downs, the Inn was bought out of bankruptcy in 1990 by the Sheridan Heritage Center, Inc., a non-profit that has owned and operated the Inn ever since. Norma must have been very active in the Sheridan Heritage Center as one online article from a radio station with sound clips embedded refers to her as the "Keeper of the Inn:"

In July, two months before she died, Norma spoke to the radio station about the Inn hosting 1,000 guests in one day of the Sheridan Rodeo, tour bus loads and everyone. Hence, the request for donations to build a monument to her at the Inn.
Finally, Norma must have skipped a grade at some point, because she was only 70 years old at the time she passed away.  When I spoke to her on the phone in preparation for the Memory Book, she mentioned she was sleeping a lot and had unremitting headaches that medications did not fully alleviate.