HOLMES BEACH -- On Aug. 28, Sue Normand told her daughter she had been diagnosed with lung cancer. The longtime Holmes Beach resident had traveled north to tell her daughter, Lisa Normand, in person.
"It was terminal and there was really nothing they could do," Lisa recalled last week of that moment. "It was very, very fast."
Normand, who Anna Maria Island residents say contributed greatly as a volunteer for Holmes Beach, died Thanksgiving Day at her home. She was 71.
"You couldn't ask for a better parent. ... She was my rock. She was my everything," the 45-year-old Lisa said. "There was just really nothing we didn't talk about. I could always go to her with anything and she didn't judge."
Normand was beloved by many on the island for her positive spirit and courage to move forward in life despite past adversities, which included the death of her son, Stephen Normand, in October 2014. Normand was also the center of headlines in 2007 after a man walked into her small business, Island Mail & More, and shot her. She was critically wounded.
Gary Hickerson, who served for years on the Holmes Beach Planning Commission alongside Normand, said she was never one to feel sorry for herself.
"She almost died and she was hospitalized for a while, but she continued to serve on the planning commission," Hickerson said. "She came to meetings with a cane."
Hickerson called Normand an inspiration.
"Her attitude was, 'I have to go on. I have a store to run. I have my responsibilties to my friends and the city,'" he said. "I would say she was very determined. She was courageous."
According to Manatee County Commissioner Carol Whitmore, Normand helped revive Holmes Beach's comprehensive plan.
"She took on a task as a volunteer that not many people would," Whitmore recalled. "She showed her dedication to the community through all her volunteer work and bringing our comp plan into the future."
Less than two months ago, the city of Holmes Beach designated October 22, 2015 as "Sue Normand Day." Normand penned a heartfelt Oct. 28 post on Facebook about the honor.
"Receiving such a tribute meant more to me than I can express!!!" her post read. "My time, work, devotion, dedication and participation mentioned in the presentation were straight from the heart -- a true "labor of love" -- and it was an honor to play a part in the future of the city I love, and on behalf of the people I have grown to know as family."
As a child growing up on the island, Lisa recalled her mother taking her and her brother on camping trips and canoeing trips to Peace River. It wasn't until later that she found out her mother hated camping. Normand was the mom who came along on all the school trips, Lisa said.
Lisa said her mother taught her that there's humor in everything. She led by example.
"She was wonderful," Lisa said. "She was the best mom ever... so strong."
Amaris Castillo, law enforcement/island reporter, can be reached at 941-745-7051. Follow her on Twitter@AmarisCastillo.