A family of Bert Norgorden’s friends in Albuquerque gathered at the Elena Gallegos Open Space area for a memorial gathering and potluck lunch. The chaplain who had agreed to conduct the service dropped out at the last minute due to a family medical emergency. But it all worked out just fine.
Herbert “Bert” Norgorden was remembered for many things: his love of herbs and teaching about their healing powers; an accomplished self-taught flutist; a talented photographer of plants, flowers and nature; a great cook and teacher; and a warm, wonderful man.
Dave and Marcia Landau were Bert’s oldest friends in Albuquerque. He knew them both in 1968 at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Bert was Marcia’s assistant as she worked on her doctoral dissertation. When the Landaus moved to Albuquerque in 1970, Bert came here shortly thereafter.
Bert had a number of relationships, and even was married once. He was truly a part of the Landau family, living with them off and on for 40 years. Their home was his first stop and his last stop in Albuquerque. Their son Neil was there when Bert suffered a debilitating stroke. Neil called 911 and got Bert to the hospital. Bert survived, but his health suffered greatly for a year and a half.
The celebration started with musician and singer Gene Corbin providing a powerful a cappella version of “Amazing Grace.” Bert and Gene had made lots of music together over the years. When Gene’s wife gave birth at home and lost a lot of blood, Bert put together a combination of Chinese herbs that replenished her blood supply in record time. The midwives were amazed at her recovery.
Bert had a Master’s degree in Chemistry and also a degree in Philosophy. After some work at Kirtland Air Force Base (that he did not enjoy), he taught at Freedom High in the 1970s, reaching out to angry, rebellious teens, listening to them and helping them to relax and calm down. But herbs were his his true calling.
Bert taught herb use and plan identification at the University of New Mexico and all the healing schools in the area. He did videos about healing and using herbs. Finally, he opened and ran The Herb Store in the Nob Hill Shopping Center for over 20 years. He continued teaching and taking people on hikes in the mountains. Several people mentioned the “cowboy toilet paper” plant he introduced to them.
Martha Doster, founder of the famous Martha’s Body Bueno store, and then-husband W.C. Longacre, moved to Albuquerque in 1975. The first place they stayed was with Bert, and he loaned them $1,500 to open their store. Bert and W.C. owned businesses together, slept on each others’ couches during domestic disputes, were broke together, and enjoyed flush times together. They often disagreed, but they never had an argument.
Paula Sherwood remembered Bert as a “Friend, Teacher, Giver, Inner Child, Musician, Scientist, Creator, Botanist, Healer, Camping Buddy, and in Mexico, the famous Norwegian Water Dog, Norgie.”
“Bert’s bright eyes, ever inquisitive and playful, his never ending energy and enthusiasm for life and friendships, he always made me feel at ease,” she said. She spoke of camping trips with plant discovery, and music in the evening around the campfire, “as Bert’s flute would hauntingly capture the serenity of the night air and the setting sun.”
Neil Landau said that Bert could speak in few words and still get his point across. Many shared stories of herb walks with Bert.
Some of Bert’s amazing photographs were displayed in the picnic shelter where the event took place. A Rasta drumming song, with a heartbeat that continues always, provided another musical interlude. Memories from those who could not attend were read aloud.
About 35 people were in attendance. Toward the end, all raised their glasses of liquid – whether goats milk (a favorite of Bert’s), lemonade, iced tea or champagne. Marcia Landau said, “To Bert and to all of us. Thank you for coming out today. He lives on in our hearts.” Everyone then enjoyed the food brought for the potluck lunch.
Bert donated his body to science. He was a loving, gentle and caring man who will be greatly missed.