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Obituary of Norma J. Markle, 87


Norma Jean Pifer Markle, 87, of Bellefonte died Sunday, February 17, 2019 at Mount Nittany Medical Center, State College, PA.

Born March 2, 1931, in Waterville, Ohio, she was the daughter of the late Victor “Mr. Banjo” Pifer and Ethel (Borough) Pifer. On April 28, 1951, she married the love of her life, Samuel E. Markle, who preceded her in death on September 20, 2015. Norma was never the same after losing her beloved husband. They had met when they were sixteen; married at 20, and celebrated over 64 wonderful years of marriage at the time of Sam’s passing.

She was a 1949 graduate from the Bellefonte Area High School. After graduation she studied to be an x-ray technician and spent a year in Florida. Norma was a teacher and musician. She was an accomplished organist, pianist, banjo, and accordion player, who also played several other instruments. In 1932 her Dad started a marching banjo band and Norma helped lead the band from the age of 4 to 11, at which time they disbanded. The band played in many parades up and down the east coast, including the World’s Fair. Norma recently donated her father’s specially made banjo to the American Banjo Museum in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. She also led the Bellefonte Accordion Band, which her brother was also a member of. They played in parades, riding on hay bales on the back of a Claster’s Lumber truck. Norma also played at many events, solo and with members of her family, throughout the years.

Norma worked for the Bald Eagle Area School District where she taught organ, supervised the Singing Couples, and assisted with the musicals that were performed. She also worked at the State Correctional Institution at Rockview where she directed the Protestant and Catholic choirs and taught music courses. Norma directed the Rockview Glee Club who performed at many organizations and at the annual Christmas concert in Bellefonte. She also worked at the family music store, Pifer Music Center, and gave private lessons. Norma played for numerous weddings, church services, and sporting events at Penn State University. One of her greatest joys was seeing and reminiscing with her former students and she absolutely loved seeing couples “she married” over the years.

Norma is survived by two daughters, Susan Roberts of Tehachapi, CA and Debra Markle Shelow (fiancé Michael Roan, his children and grandchildren) of Pleasant Gap; one son, Ronald Markle (Janice) of Rattlesnake Pike; one brother Ronald Pifer (Barbara); three grandchildren, Mary Elizabeth Shelow Stamm, Curtis Markle (fiancée Anissa Hoover and her children), and Jessica Smith (Jason); three great-grandchildren, Curtis’s daughter, Anna Lovrich; Mary’s son, Jayden Samuel Stamm; and Jessica’s son, Cooper Smith; two sisters-in-law Eleanor Houser (Richard) of Altoona and Beverly Miles (Chet) of Julian; brother-in-law David J. Brown; numerous nieces and nephews, and many friends. Norma loved her family and friends and always enjoyed any opportunity to get together. She will be missed by many.

Along with her parents and husband she was preceded in death by her sister, June Pifer Brown; brother-in law, Fred Markle; and sister-in-law, Caroline Horner.

The family would like to thank Dr. Hussein Aboul-Hosn and his staff for their quality care, compassion, and kindness. Norma enjoyed meeting up with her Bellefonte Area High School classmates at their monthly “Class of ‘49” lunches. The family would also like to thank all her friends at Sunset West, who she saw almost daily and became like family.

Friends will be received from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. on Monday, February 25, 2019 at Mark D Heintzelman Funeral Home, 1034 Benner Pike, State College. A memorial service will follow at 6:00 p.m. Pastor Chester Marshall will be officiating. Burial is private and at the convenience of the family.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in her memory to the Cancer Society or the Heart Association (in honor of her husband Sam) or The Christopher Reeve Foundation (in honor of her grandson, Curtis Markle).

An online guestbook may be signed and condolences sent to the family at

Name of Deceased

Norma J. Markle



Date of Death


Date of Birth


Funeral Home

Mark D. Heintzelman Funeral and Cremation Service

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