Notable People

R. Henry Norweb Sr. - Diplomat

9511 Lake Shore Boulevard
R. Henry Norweb
R. Henry Norweb

Emery May, the gutsy and determined daughter of Albert and Katherine Holden, went to London as World War I began. She was twenty-one years old and had just graduated from Westover School in Connecticut. After graduation, she went to Paris and volunteered to drive an ambulance and care for the wounded in French hospitals. It was in Paris where she met R. Henry Norweb and was immediately taken with the charming and well-mannered young Englishman.

Shortly after receiving his B.A. from Harvard University in 1916. he became second secretary in the United States legation in Paris when William Sharp of Elyria was ambassador to France. Emery May and Henry married in Paris in 1917.

Norweb’s diplomatic career following the war included postings to Japan as secretary of the embassy in 1922, to the Netherlands as secretary of the embassy and chargés d’affaires in 1925, and Chile as a counselor in 1929.

He later served in Bolivia and the Dominican Republic, and in 1940, he was named Ambassador to Peru. On November 10, 1943, President Roosevelt nominated Norweb to be the minister to Portugal. This was one of the most important wartime posts for an American diplomat since Lisbon was among the largest neutral capitals in Europe. Portugal was the center of much diplomatic maneuvering and was considered a country to which only the most astute diplomat should be assigned. Portugal became an important factor in the war in October 1943 when it granted antisubmarine bases to Great Britain on the Azores.

Henry retired from his post as Ambassador to Cuba, returning to Cleveland in 1948. The Norwebs maintained Katewood during their thirty-one years abroad.

Norweb was appointed to serve the remaining term of William Hallaran, who resigned from Bratenahl Village Council in 1960. Norweb served ten years until he resigned in 1969.

Raymond Henry Norweb Sr. was born on May 31, 1894, in Nottingham, England, and moved to Elyria, Ohio, with his family in 1907, when his father became president of the American Lace Co.

Raymond and Emery May had three children: Raymond Henry Jr. who was born in a Paris cellar during an air raid on August 19, 1918, Jeanne Katherine (Mother Mary Joseph) born on April 18, 1920, who lived at Loch Hame with her great uncle, Guerdon Holden, while her father and mother traveled the world on diplomatic assignments; and Albert Holden, named for his grandfather,  born on November 20, 1921.

With the return of the Norwebs to Cleveland, Emery May, who as a child bounced tennis balls off beautiful old paintings in her grandparent’s home, became an active member of the Cleveland Art Museum's accessions committee. In 1949, she joined the museum's board of trustees. In 1962, she became the first woman president of the Cleveland Art Museum, one of two women holding such a position at that time in the United States.

Emery May began collecting coins after receiving an American colonial coin as a schoolgirl. After more than fifty years of coin collecting, she had the most extensive American collection of English coins and also specialized in American colonial, Canadian, and South American coins. She was the first woman named to the council of the American Numismatic Society and was a fellow of the Royal Numismatic Society in London and of the Smithsonian.

Emery May became blind while in her 70’s, which interfered with her enjoyment of gardening, embroidery, and painting. She quickly learned to read Braille and worked with her coins through touch.

Henry Norweb died of cancer on October 1, 1983, at age 89. Emery May died just five months later on March 27, 1984, at the age of 88 and buried alongside Henry in Lake View Cemetery.

On September 25, 1984, the remaining contents from Katewood and the estate of Emery May and Henry Norweb were auctioned on the premises by Christie’s of New York. This was not an ordinary yard sale. Some parked over a mile away took a shuttle to a large yellow and white tent that seated hundreds. About 1,200 people showed up for the auction.