Discover Delmarva: Norma Lee Barkely
89 year old Norma Lee Barkley of Salisbury is a trailblazer.
Barkley was the first African american elected in the state of Maryland to the Orphans’ Court.
Its not a role she planned on filling, but she stepped up to the plate when local leaders asked her to.
“They told me what they wanted. It is time a black person was on that in that position. And I said but I don’t know anything,” recalls Barkley.
Norma Lee says she was amazed at the support she got from her community when she entered the race.
“Believe it or not people that I never knew, black, white and all colors in-between rallied around me,” says Barkley.
In most states the Orphans’ Court is called Probate Court.
Three judges are elected to serve while another is usually appointed as chief judge by the governor.
The Court’s job is to sort out the last will and testament of people who’ve passed away.
Its a job Norma Lee takes seriously.
“You’re really interested in the lives of those who have passed on and to make sure that whatever their wishes were that this is what will be,” says the octogenarian.
When Norma Lee was elected to serve back in 1982\ she had already done many things including working as the first black bookkeeper for a local bank and driving a school bus for many years.
Her first term was a success and when she ran again in 1986 she was appointed as chief judge , a position she would hold until her retirement in 2018.
Barkley has lived a pretty amazing life for a girl born during the Depression in Wicomico County.