Norma Zemarel, worked with bandleader husband

March 04, 1995|By Fred Rasmussen | Fred Rasmussen,Sun Staff Writer

Norma Virginia Beck Zemarel, who worked with her popular bandleader husband Zim Zemarel, died Thursday of heart failure at Stella Maris Hospice. She was 73.

Mrs. Zemarel ran her husband's office and handled bookings for the orchestra he led for nearly 40 years.

"She was my administrative assistant with the band and also spent her time raising our children," said Mr. Zemarel, who had worked in record promotion for CBS and is semi-retired from the band.

"We met at a USO dance on St. Paul Street in 1942 when I was serving in the Coast Guard as a band leader," he said. "I thought she was the most beautiful girl I had ever met, and we fell in love while dancing to the music of Duke Ellington's Orchestra at Keith's Roof on Lexington Street."

They were married in 1945 and lived for many years on Dennis Avenue in Riderwood. The couple had recently moved to St. Elizabeth's Hall at Stella Maris.

"Norma was Zim's right-hand person who was always there to straighten things out when they got screwed up as they sometimes do," said Gene Bonner, co-director and band member for 25 years.

"Upbeat like Zim, she was the idol of all the musicians in the band -- she was just a grand lady," Mr. Bonner said.

Mrs. Zemarel, a Baltimore native, graduated from the old Vocational High School in East Baltimore and attended the University of Baltimore.

Services were to be held at 9:30 a.m. today at Ruck Towson Funeral Home, 1050 York Road.

Other survivors include two sons, Jonathan Allen Zemarel of Lutherville and James A. Zemarel of Columbia; a daughter, Jean Ann Zemarel of Gardnerville, Nev.; two brothers, Charles Beck of Upperco and James Beck of Stoneleigh; two sisters, Alice Thompson of San Francisco and Carol Baublitz of Baltimore; and five grandchildren.

Memorial donations may be made to Stella Maris Hospice, 2300 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson 21204.

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