Norma Lynn Knobel Hunt, devoted and loving wife, mother of two, and grandmother of five, went home to be with the Lord on June 4, 2023.
Kind, generous, and unfailingly positive, Norma’s joy and zeal for life were infectious. She loved caring for others, and she always had an encouraging word. She was a loyal friend, the consummate hostess, and she had a rare ability to make everyone she encountered feel valued and at ease.
Norma was born in Greenville, Texas, on March 28, 1938. She was the only daughter of Edward and Loretta Knobel. She graduated from Richardson High School in 1956, where she shined academically, played basketball, and was a member of the drill team.
After high school, Norma earned a bachelor’s degree in secondary education from North Texas State University in Denton, graduating with honors in 1960. While at the university, Norma served as president of the Chi Omega sorority and received numerous accolades, including being named Woman of the Year and Who’s Who Among Students in American Colleges and Universities. In 1962, Norma was awarded a year of post-graduate study in Dublin, Ireland, as part of the Rotary Club’s overseas fellowship program. Following her studies, Norma returned to Richardson High School to begin her career as an American history teacher.
In 1963, Norma was courted by American sports pioneer Lamar Hunt. Lamar was smitten by Norma’s vivacious and kind manner, and their bond grew deeper over a shared love of sports. On an extended weekend in October 1963, Lamar took Norma to five football games in three cities over four days, including a triumph by his Kansas City Chiefs over the Houston Oilers. Norma enjoyed every second of the adventure – which affectionately became known as the “fipple-header” – and Lamar knew he had found the one.
Norma and Lamar were married in a small ceremony at her parents’ home on January 22, 1964. The happy couple whisked away to Europe to take in the Winter Olympics in Innsbruck, Austria. It was there they learned that the league Lamar founded, the American Football League, had secured a major television rights agreement which would set in motion the eventual merger of the AFL with the rival NFL, thus creating the modern era of professional football in 1966.
Norma was by Lamar’s side every step of the way as the burgeoning AFL battled and then befriended the NFL. She even provided unintentional inspiration for the naming of the most iconic sporting event in North America. For Christmas in 1965, Norma gifted Lamar’s three children the hottest toy on the market that year – the Wham-O “Super Ball.” Lamar would later say that the combination of that toy and his affinity for college bowl games which led him to coin the phrase “Super Bowl” for the championship game between the AFL and the NFL.
Norma supported Lamar in all of his various sports pursuits. In the first four years of their marriage, Lamar merged his pro football league with the NFL, founded the Dallas Tornado of the then-nascent North American Soccer League, and established the first professional tennis tour in North America, World Championship Tennis. In 1966, at Norma’s behest, the Hunts became founding investors in the Chicago Bulls of the National Basketball Association. As passive investors, Norma and Lamar were not intimately involved in the business of the Bulls, but some of their best times together came in the 1990s, cheering on the six championship teams led by Michael Jordan.
Beyond sports, Norma and Lamar shared a love for art and antiques, and their passion took them on travels around the world. They developed a deep affinity for the paintings of Thomas Moran, which they collected over the years. Both Norma and Lamar were patrons and benefactors of the Dallas Museum of Art and devoted time and resources to promoting the museum over the years. In 1979, the lost masterpiece of Fredric Edwin Church, The Icebergs, came up for auction at Sotheby’s. Hoping to elevate the profile of the DMA, the Hunts acquired the painting for a then-record sum for an American artist and donated the masterwork to the museum a year later. In addition to her contributions to the DMA, Norma was active and generous in her support of Park Cities Presbyterian Church, Crystal Charity Ball, Council for Life, and the Dallas Symphony Orchestra.
On a trip to Tuscany with Lamar, Norma began a fascination with viticulture. In 2000, she acquired Bidwell Creek Vineyard in Knight’s Valley, California, and immersed herself in the art, science, and challenge of winemaking. She planted and replanted until the vineyard produced some of the finest cabernet sauvignon in northern California. Dubbed “Perfect Season” by her son, Clark, each vintage of Norma’s wine was unique. Norma even used an image from one of her and Lamar’s favorite Moran paintings, “Moonlight in the Canon,” for the label. The 2016 vintage of Perfect Season received a near-perfect score of 96 from Robert Parker’s famed Wine Advocate, a credit to Norma’s perseverance and ingenuity.
Above all, Norma took the most pride in her roles as mother and grandmother. She supported her two sons, Clark and Daniel, throughout her life, attending every soccer match and football game she could. She was their biggest cheerleader in life and in sports, first at the St. Mark’s School of Texas and Southern Methodist University and then as a fan of the pro teams they operated. In her later years, she did the same for her five grandchildren, and she treasured her position as their beloved and doting “Mimi.”
Norma and Lamar were on hand for the first Super Bowl between the Chiefs and the Green Bay Packers, and the two would attend every one of the first 40 Super Bowl games together before Lamar passed away in December 2006. It was a streak Lamar especially cherished, and he encouraged sons Clark and Dan to make sure it continued after his passing. Clark and Dan honored their father’s wishes by accompanying Norma to every game through Super Bowl LVII – where, fittingly, her beloved Chiefs defeated the Philadelphia Eagles to claim the third Lombardi Trophy in franchise history.
Norma Lynn Knobel Hunt was sustained by a deep faith in Jesus Christ, and her family takes great comfort in the knowledge that she is now home with the Lord. Norma is survived by her sons Clark (Tavia) and Daniel (Toni); her brother, Edward Knobel III (Paula); her niece, Amy Knobel; five grandchildren, Gracelyn, Knobel, Ava, Darlington, and Tennyson. She is also survived by two stepchildren, Lamar Jr. (Rita) and Sharron; eleven step-grandchildren, Sarah (James), Elyssa (Matthew), Lamar III (Jamy), Maria (Kyle), Andrew, John, Isabel, Jocelyn, Boone, Miles, and Thomas; and seven step-great-grandchildren, Emma, James Jr., Claire, Matthew, Michael, Thomas, and Van. She was preceded in death by her beloved husband and best friend of 42 years, Lamar Hunt, and her parents, Edward and Loretta Knobel.
Memorial donations in lieu of flowers may be sent in Mrs. Hunt’s name to the Crystal Charity Ball (Two Turtle Creek, 3838 Oak Lawn Avenue, Suite L150, Dallas, TX, 75219) and Council for Life (4516 Lovers Lane, P.O. Box 103, Dallas, TX, 75225).