Norman Lynn Farel, 89

Norman Lynn (Digger) Farel, 89, of Udall, died on March 25, 2024, in his home surrounded by his family. There will be a service and committal at Baptist Hill Cemetery, Elijah, at 2 p.m. Tuesday, April 23. A time of visitation will be held starting at 1 p.m. A celebration of life will also be held in Illinois on June 15 at the home of Pamela Johnson, 4000 Orth Rd, Belvidere.

Norman was born July 16, 1934 in Bridges Creek in Ozark County to Frank Morton Farel and Bessie Leota Dean Farel. He was raised in Ozark County and moved to Boone County, Illinois, as a teenager. He always loved the Ozarks; it was his home, and he returned often for hunting trips and family gatherings. He later retired to his parents' homestead in Udall.

He embarked on a lifelong journey with Shirley Tessman, tying the knot on Aug. 29, 1953, at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Belvidere, Illinois. Their love story began when her big brother Bob Tessman introduced them as teenagers, and they went on to celebrate 67 years of marriage.

Norman was a storyteller. He had a million tales to tell, and they only got taller with each telling. He loved reminiscing and laughing about the good old days. He lived a full life and loved to share his adventures. He enjoyed his trusty harmonica and playing heartfelt love songs about Shirley, who he missed so much.

He was a collector of everything because "there was always going to be a use for it another day." If you needed something, he probably had two of them. He prided himself on having just what you need to “fix” anything “the Farel way” and believed that WD-40, duct tape or a Craftsman wrench solved almost every problem. He held onto tractors and trucks that he tinkered with and especially loved his old Ford truck that he was saving to restore with his son Norman Jr.. He was proud of his red Farmall Cub tractor that he displayed at the Boone County fair. The fair was something that Norman and Shirley enjoyed together; it was a chance to catch up with longtime Belvidere friends.

Norman loved to travel and take the family on long vacations across the country in his motorhome. His favorite times were trips out west to visit the Dean families and to northern Wisconsin to see the Tessman families. In Illinois, many weekends were spent at Boone Lake. Everyone has a memory tied to his camping excursions. After he retired to Missouri, he enjoyed taking visitors out on Lake Norfork in his pontoon boat or loading everyone into the motorhome as he drove around the back roads to all the places he loved.

He had many pets throughout his life but especially loved his sweet dog Daisy, who he cared for over 14 years.

He had an incredible work ethic, working multiple jobs to take care of his immediate and extended family. He worked at several Illinois companies as a welder including Dean Foods, Standard Brass and Arnold Electric and retired from Wilburt Vault Company. He started his own business, Farel Excavation, with his son Steve; this is when he became known as “Digger.” He used his backhoe both for his business and to help out his friends.

He was a church leader and a Sunday School bus driver at Calvary Baptist Church in Belvidere, Illinois. In Missouri, he was a member of Bridges Creek Baptist Church and was active with remodeling the church and taking care of the grounds including Baptist Hill Cemetery.

Norman was a caring husband, father, grandpa and papa. He was a great friend to all who knew him and was always there to help anyone who needed him.

Norman is survived by his daughters: Sharon Thomas and her husband Fred, Pamela Johnson and her husband Tom, daughter-in-law Cheryl Farel, all of Belvidere; grandchildren: Christopher  Thomas and spouse Katie, Sara Wollin and spouse Dan Hodgson, Matthew Wollin, Talie Johnson, Nick Brown and spouse Katrina, Steven K.C. Farel and spouse Kristine, Ashley Farel and Barb Hinde; great-grandchildren: Xandra Farel, Braden Ettner, Emma, Hunter, Regan and Max Wollin, Alayna Farel, Jasmin Farel, Janell, Teaghan, Zach and Karlene Brown, Mark Mason and spouse Nicole and Crystal Mason; five great-great-grandchildren; sisters: Linda Hendrickson of Texas and Ruby Cheek-Robinson of Udall; many cousins, nieces and nephews, all of whom he loved deeply.

He is preceded in death by his parents Frank and Bessie Farel; his loving wife Shirley Farel; son Steven Farel and his wife Trina; son Norman Farel Jr.; grandsons, Cory Joe Farel, Shane Farel and Luke Wollin; siblings Charles “Cook” Farel and Bonnie Hodgson.

The family wishes to express their thanks for the care provided by his granddaughter Sara Wollin and her son Braden Ettner and to Ozark Home Health and Hospice in West Plains.

Arrangements under the direction of Robertson-Drago Funeral Home. Online condolences may be left at

Ozark County Times

504 Third Steet
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Phone: (417) 679-4641
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