In her 70s, when most people are well into retirement, Veronica Norman was still working as a nurse at St. Elizabeths Hospital, the District’s psychiatric facility. Her family had encouraged her to retire, but Norman insisted on continuing the nursing work she had been doing for 40 years.

“She loved it,” said her niece, Renata Hedrington-Jones. “She loved helping people and never got tired of it. She celebrated her birthday, but if they needed her, she would go to work.”

Norman, 75, who lived in Prince George’s County, died April 18. Her death was announced by D.C. Council member Trayon White Sr. (D-Ward 8), who had been close to Norman since his childhood and considers her a grandmother. Her family said the cause of death was covid-19.

Norman was born July 22, 1944, in South Carolina, across the border from Augusta, Ga. Her mother, Bernice, was a homemaker and her father, John, a railroad porter, farmer and minister. She attended Allen University in South Carolina before moving in the 1960s to the District, where she got her nursing degree.

Even into her late 60s, Norman liked to maintain her health by walking 4½ miles from her home to work at St. Elizabeths, a practice she only ended in 2015.

Before working at the hospital, Norman worked at D.C. Village, the city’s now-shuttered nursing home for poor people who were elderly, mentally ill or physically disabled, said Ratunda Norman, one of her two children. For years, Veronica Norman also worked as a nurse at a summer sports camp, where she came to know generations of District youngsters.

A religious woman, Norman was known within her social network and family as “a grandma to all,” Ratunda Norman said. “She was like a safe house for a lot of people. If you were going through something, she would say, ‘Come on in,’ and she would feed you. She made everyone feel welcome.”

When she wasn’t working, Veronica Norman liked to take trips to places such as Disneyland and Puerto Rico. Her passions included cooking up ribs, crabs and fried chicken, along with sweet potato pie, apple pie and pound cake. Each creation was an expression of her need to care for anyone in her midst, her daughter and niece said.

As the daughter of a farmer, Norman also knew about plants and vegetation, and liked to dispense health and nutritional advice, though always in a measured tone.

“I never heard her raise her voice,” said Hedrington-Jones. “She just wasn’t one to be critical. It wasn’t her way.”

Norman took the same gentle approach with her patients, whom she planned to tend through the pandemic that ultimately claimed her life.

“She was doing something she wanted to do,” her niece said. “Why stop if you have the energy to do it?”