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Norman Dale Ellenberger


WATERSMEET, Mich. — Norman Dale Ellenberger, 83, died exactly where he wanted to be; in his cabin in Watersmeet on Nov. 15, 2015.

He was lovingly raised by his parents, Dale and Mildred Ellenberger, and grandparents, Chester and Clellah Isanogle, in Bluffton, Ind.

He graduated from New Haven High School in New Haven, Ind., where he solidified his passion for competition in sports. Norm was recruited to play football at Butler University, where he was a three-sport athlete. During his tenure at Butler. he was team captain and all-conference on Butler’s football team and a two-year varsity letter winner.

Norm was mentored by Hall of Fame coach Paul D. “Tony” Hinkle on the Butler Bulldogs’ basketball squad, becoming a two-year varsity winner.

Norm pitched one of five no-hitters in Butler baseball history and was named Indiana Collegiate Conference Baseball Most Outstanding Player in 1954. He was a two-time all-conference player for baseball, a knuckle ball specialist. Norm was inducted into the Butler Athletic Hall of Fame in 2012. During his speech, accepting the award, he spoke of his time at Butler as “blessed enough to have the experience.”

Norm was drafted into the U.S. Army. He met the mother of his children, Judith Weld, in 1956. They had three beautiful children together; Barbara, Shari and James.

During this time, Norm was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates to pitch. He was released after one year after an injury, which led Norm to direct his passion toward coaching. New Haven High School, his alma mater, hired him to coach basketball, which was the beginning of his legendary coaching career. Norm left New Haven High School in 1963 to coach at Monmouth College in Illinois. While at Monmouth, he coached basketball, football and baseball. After three seasons at Monmouth, Norm was offered the assistant coaching position under coach Bob King at the University of New Mexico. When King resigned in 1972, Norm was named head coach of the Lobos.

As first-year head coach, he led the Lobos to a 21-6 record. The Lobos went on to win Western Athletic Conference championships in 1974 and 1978, compiling a “Stormin’ Norman” overall record of 134-62 (.684). Norm was named Western Athletic Conference Coach of the Year for 1973-’74.

Norm’s coaching career extended internationally, conducting coaching clinics on four continents. He was an official guest in China and Taiwan. In 1974, he took his New Mexico team to Tel Aviv, Israel, winning the International University Basketball Games for the United States. He coached the Korean and Japanese Olympic teams.

Norm spent time coaching the Albuquerque Silvers of the Continental Basketball Association and professional women’s basketball in the WBA.

Throughout his life, Albuquerque remained close in his heart. His memories and stories of players, friends and family were always a part of him, even after moving away from the area.

In 1986, Don Haskins hired Norm as lead assistant at the University of Texas-El Paso, coaching for four years, one of those years as head coach.

Bob Knight hired Norm in 1990 as assistant for the Indiana Hoosiers until 2000, when Norm accepted an assistant coach position for the Chicago Bulls of the NBA. It was during Norm’s time at UTEP and Indiana that his love of Muncho Lake, British Columbia, began.

After discovering Muncho Lake, Norm began a career as a fishing guide in the Northern Rockies of British Columbia during the off season. His last trip to British Columbia was this year fishing with dear friends, catching lake trout, pike, laughing, talking and telling many stories of his extraordinary experiences of his life.

In 2012, Norm was honored to once again coach with his lifetime friend, John Whisenant, for the New York Liberty of the Women’s NBA.

During the last 15 years, Norm coached numerous high school basketball teams, which was the driving force of his passion for the game and life. “Everyone has an itch to scratch,” he would say about continuing to coach until his last day on earth. His passion for teaching players about the game extended to life lessons, always guiding and teaching, always offering his time and talent unselfishly, contributing to what he had to share.

Norm is survived by the mother of his children, Judi; daughter, Barbara (Steve) Dobson, of Bellingham, Wash .; daughter, Shari Ellenberger, of Seattle; son, James (Suzanne) Ellenberger, of New York City; and grandchildren, Shane, Gabe, Sharon, Billy, Dale, Juliette, Samantha and Christiana.

Norm spent his last years with his sweetheart, Lori. He was very close to Lori’s children, Philip, Peter and Ricki Ann. Kiva, his chocolate lab, is already missing him, as Norm would refer to her as “the brown dog.”

Norm is also survived by his cousin, Mary Ann Ellenberger, of Indiana, as well as extended relatives in the New Haven, Bluffton and Fort Wayne, Ind., area.

A memorial celebration of Norm’s life will be held Dec. 5, 2015, at the Lakeland Union High School Fieldhouse in Minocqua, Wis. A memorial gathering will start at 11 a.m., followed by a service at 1 p.m. and a reception afterwards.

In lieu of flowers, Norm had a special place in his heart for Diana and George Trejeque, whose son, Erin, passed away of childhood cancer. Erin’s Place is being built in Albuquerque for children with cancer and their families to help care for them in times of need. The website is or mail donations to The Children’s Cancer Fund of New Mexico, 112 14th St. SW, Albuquerque, NM 87102.

Online condolences may be shared at Nimsgern Funeral and Cremation Services is serving the family.


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