An unexpected arrangement: As a nationally-recognized florist, alumnus Norman Northen uses his talents to beautify UMHB and Central Texas
As a student at UMHB, Norman Northen ’75 needed some extra money. After seeing an ad in the newspaper for a part-time deliverer at a local flower shop, his grandmother—Joan Normand Northen ’70—suggested he apply. Little did Norman know that when he walked in the door of the flower shop that day, it would be the start of a professional career in the floral industry.
Forty-one years later, Norman could not be more satisfied with the name he has made for himself. In 2001, he was named the “Texas Designer of the Year” by Texas Cup, and in 2007, the shop he currently works for—Precious Memories— was named “National Retail Florist of the Year for the U.S. and Canada” by Florist Review Magazine.
“These are two credentials that together no one else in the state of Texas has on his or her resume,” Norman said.
The florist clearly takes his work seriously. “I see what I do as a ministry,” Norman said. “I deal with every emotion people have – from the highest to the lowest. I talk to people who are in bereavement from deaths and those who are joyfully planning marriages.”
He sees working in the floral industry as a perfect opportunity to share God’s love with others. His personal mission statement is to use “God-given flowers and his God-given talents” to bless others.
Norman comes from a long line of UMHB alumni and former students, dating back to 1889. Norman himself is a fourth-generation Crusader and has been making UMHB memories for more than 50 years.
“My grandmother attended UMHB and later worked in the College of Business,” Norman said. “So UMHB events were a big deal in our household.”
He remembers participating in Charter Day activities and attending UMHB Christmas parties. His involvement with the university continued into adulthood as he served on the alumni board.
One of Norman’s favorite memories is when he was selected to do the candle lighting charge at the university’s sesquicentennial celebration. Looking back on that 150-year celebration, Norman is still honored that he was asked to participate in the event.
“Out of all the alumni they could have asked, they chose me,” Norman said. “I was incredibly honored by that opportunity.”
Norman has also served the university using his professional skills. Dating back to the years of Dr. and Mrs. Bobby Parker, Norman has walked alongside several university first ladies to create floral arrangements for UMHB events.
“I enjoyed learning each of the women’s personalities by being their florist,” Norman said. “It is fun to look back and see how the university’s style has evolved over the last 40 years.”
Among the most memorable events Norman has contributed flower arrangements to have been Charter Day, the dedication of the Bawcom Student Union, and the McLane Lecture featuring George W. Bush.
“It’s neat to say that I had a part in these events,” he said. “I am thankful UMHB has the confidence in me to do a good job for these special events.”