Clay Center, Nebraska resident Norma Jean (Ockinga) Burklund, 79, was born May 10, 1942, and passed away Tuesday, November 17, 2021, the day after her 62nd wedding anniversary, from COVID-19 complications.

Funeral services will be conducted at 2 p.m. Wednesday, November 24, at Zion Lutheran Church in Clay Center with Pastor Patti Byrne officiating. Interment will follow at the Clay Center Cemetery in Clay Center. Visitation with the family present will be held on Tuesday, from 4-8 p.m., at McLaughlin Funeral Chapel in Clay Center. Masks will be provided and required.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be directed to the family to be designated later.

Condolences may be left at

Services will be live-streamed from McLaughlin Funeral Chapel’s Facebook page

Norma Jean (Ockinga) Burklund was born in Spring Ranch, NE to Fred and Mabel (Davis) Ockinga on May 10, 1942, the second of four children. She passed into the arms of Jesus on November 17, 2021, from COVID-19 complications.

The Ockinga family moved to Clay Center when she was one year old, and Norma spent all her school years there where she participated in plays, choirs, band, was a cheerleader, and on homecoming court. She met her future husband, John Burklund, on the playground in the second grade. In high school they began dating and recently celebrated their 62nd wedding anniversary.

The young couple moved to Lincoln where Laura “Laurie”, Kevin, and Heidi were born. In 1967, Norma’s father had a heart attack, so the family moved back to Clay Center and purchased the Conoco station. When Aaron was born three years later, their family was complete.

It was appropriate that Norma’s birthday often fell on Mother’s Day, because being a mother and grandmother was what she loved most in life. When her children were young, she prioritized staying home and being a nurturing mom and teacher. She loved to read stories to her children, her grandchildren, Sunday school kids and later to children at the church after school program.

Norma was artistic and creative. For her children, her love of design resulted in fabulous costumes for homecoming parades and Halloween. She was also an Easter egg artist. For her young children and grandchildren, Norma painstakingly painted intricate, beautiful, personalized eggs for each.

Music was important in Norma’s life. Norma and John loved to sing harmony together, and on vacations the family station wagon was full of song as their children learned to do the same. Norma and John also sang in the church choir and acted in many community theater productions.

As a teen, Norma worked at Flossie’s Café in Clay Center. When her children went to school, she worked in secretarial roles. She served as Deputy Clerk of the District Court, and in 1996 she ran for the office of Clerk of the District Court and was elected, retiring from that post in 2004.

Norma was a woman of faith. She enjoyed church choir and helping with Sunday School and Vacation Bible School, and for many years she worked as Church Secretary at Zion Lutheran Church.

Norma is survived by her beloved husband, John; children, Laurie (David) Mussman, Kevin (Monica), Heidi, and Aaron (Irene); and her grandchildren, Ian, Ruby, Grace and Noah Mussman, Eva and Eli Burklund, Dara (CJ) Wells, and Anne (Mike) Furasek; and great-grandchildren Tatum, Jaelyn, Preston, Layla, Ben and Sam.