Born in Clunes in 1936 a descendent of Cornish miners and bridge builders, Alma May Arnold, like so many women of her generation, had to leave school at an early age in order to help support her family who were struggling after the sudden death of her father. A naturally gifted musician, seamstress, cook, and artist, Alma at eighteen, married Clive Nordenadler and the young couple made their home in Ballarat. Alma was employed by the Gavin family at their Milkbar near the old cemetery (now Eclectic Tastes Cafe) and Clive worked in Administration at Lakeside Hospital until he was promoted to Manager of Gresswell Sanitarium and later Mont Park Hospital where the couple moved in 1962. In Melbourne Alma worked in Early Childhood Education and was beloved of so many youngsters and their families who remained grateful for her wisdom and guidance long after their formative years with her. She ensured too that her own children received the sound education of which she had been robbed.
Returning to Ballarat in the early 1990s as a widow and a survivor of metastatic breast cancer, Alma Norden continued her interest in the arts and travelled extensively overseas, but her real passion had always been early childhood learning and she became an invaluable Nanny for several Ballarat families whose young children she cared for and loved as her own. Even at the end of her life she was still receiving visits from young adults who had been her kindergarten pupils and loved to keep her up to date with their lives.
Alma regarded herself as a country girl at heart. She possessed the precious gift of friendship and was generous in her activities for the local community. She was unassuming and didn’t see herself as special or notable; but her qualities of loyalty, humble service, creativity, generosity, and her strong Christian faith are the bedrock of all that is good about Ballarat. It is women like Alma who keep the heartbeat of our community pumping.