By Karen Andrew
The Cincinnati Enquirer
Norma L. Flannery, former president and co-founder of the nonprofit volunteer conservation organization Oxbow Inc., died Tuesday of lung cancer at her home in Price Hill. She was 81.
In her work, Ms. Flannery helped preserve the 2,500-acre "Oxbow" wetland ecosystem located at the confluence of the Great Miami and Ohio Rivers.
The area stretches from Elizabethtown, Ohio, to Lawrenceburg, Ind., framed between U.S. Hwy. 50 and the Ohio River. It is a feeding and resting area for waterfowl on their North-South migrations.
During Ms. Flannery's presidency (1988-2003) and through her work with local, state and federal agencies, Oxbow Inc. gained protection of 960 acres of the acreage now under protection. She was also the organization's newsletter editor, land negotiator and comptroller.
She was recognized for her efforts by the Environmental Law Institute in Washington, D.C., with its 2001 National Wetland Award for Volunteer Leadership.
"She was an extremely sensitive woman and could read people," said her close friend, Do Kuhlman of White Oak. "She had a dry wit and a sense of humor, which served her well. "She had a lot of drive. She was a great negotiator, but would not compromise her high ethical standards. She held her ground."
Born in Cincinnati, Ms. Flannery graduated from Western Hills High School. She joined Cincinnati Bell in 1947, retiring as a business office supervisor in 1964.
She was owner-partner from 1964-1977 of Kiddie Ranch Day Nursery, a licensed day care facility in Dent. It was during that time that Ms. Flannery became interested in birds. She eventually served on the board of the Audubon Society of Ohio. In 1985, through Audubon, she became aware of an industrial threat to the wetland area. She and other concerned citizens formed Oxbow Inc.
"This is an area that needs to be preserved," said Ms. Flannery in a January 2003 Enquirer article. "If we don't protect it, the wetland will go to industrial development. A lot of the land is being developed since the (Argosy) casino was built in Lawrenceburg."
Visitation will be Wednesday from 1-2:30 p.m. in Norman Chapel of Spring Grove Cemetery, 4521 Spring Grove Ave., Winton Place. Services will follow at 2:30 p.m.
Memorials: Oxbow Inc., P.O. Box 43391, Cincinnati, OH 45243-0391.
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