On Thursday, April 29, 2016, Mrs. Norma Basloe passed away peacefully surrounded by loved ones. She and her late husband Sheldon Basloe founded our company, the Original Herkimer County Cheese Company, in 1949. Mrs. B, as she was known to many, was an amazing woman, wife and mother. She was resilient, colorful, strong and unforgettable. To honor the memory of her full and vibrant life, we’d like to begin to share her story.
Norma Syra Samuels was born in Fort Plains, New York. Her parents owned a men’s clothing store and were part of the fabric of the community. From her parents she learned the importance of community, hard work, and salesmanship, and to appreciate family, education, and the arts. Her parents encouraged their children to attend college, and upon graduating Fort Plains High School, she went to follow in her parents’ footsteps by majoring in fashion retailing at NYU.
Always curious and very social, she used her experience in the city not only to study retailing, but to explore the cultural and artistic venues, taking in the arts, the museums, Broadway and fashion. After graduating, she landed a job at Montgomery Wards as a fashion copywriter. The world was now her oyster, this was it! She had made it; she had a great job, life was exciting, the future was waiting for her, this was it: New York, New York!
Then one weekend while visiting her parents in Fort Plain, her cousins suggested she join them for dinner with a few friends at their home. She wasn’t there long before in walked Sheldon Basloe, in his glen plaid double-breasted suit. The sparks flew for both. She went back to New York and two weeks later, Sheldon called her and said, “Norma, get on a train and get back here, and let’s get the show on the road.” Three months later they were married.
Sheldon worked in real estate with his father until he decided the real estate business was not for him. After selling a dairy one day, he started shipping cheese out of a location in Mohawk and was soon tinkering with manufacturing cheese in the back of their newly opened gourmet food business on Caroline Street in Herkimer. That was the beginning of Original Herkimer County Cheese.