Norma Harris

Norma Lee "Niki" Harris

February 16, 1935 - April 21, 2021
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Service Details

  • Service

    Friday, April 23rd, 2021 | 12:45pm
    Friday, April 23rd, 2021 12:45pm
    Virtual Funeral in Levinson's Chapel
    Please click the view the webcast link above to watch the funeral service.
  • Shiva

    Virtual Shiva
    via Zoom
    Virtual shiva will be held on Saturday at 8:45 pm, and on Sunday and Monday with services beginning at 7pm. The family will be receiving in person at specific times. Please contact Kayla Reisman for details and to schedule a visit at

    Click here to join the virtual shiva

    Meeting ID: 957 0387 6331
    Password: Harris


Donations are being accepted for:
Baltimore School of the Arts

712 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

Everyman Theater

315 W. Fayette Street, Baltimore, MD 21201

Camps Airy & Louise c/o Development Office

5750 Park Heights Avenue
Suite 306, Baltimore, MD 21215


Norma Lee "Niki" Harris, of Ellicott City, Maryland, passed away on Wednesday, April 21st, 2021 at the age of 86. She is survived by her daughters, Sheryl Cooper (Eric Reisman) and Mindy Cooper (David Grenke); step-children, Terry and Michael Fortunato and Joseph and Jennifer Harris; brother, Arnold (Judy) Zerwitz; grandchildren, Kayla Reisman (Andrew Brandel), Lianna Reisman, Sophie Grenke and Cooper Grenke; and great-granddaughter, Sunni Belle Taylor. Norma was predeceased by her husbands, Alan Edgar Harris, Angelo Fortunato, and David Cooper; and her parents, Sophie and Jack Zerwitz.

“Niki” was born and raised in Baltimore, graduated from Forest Park High School and the University of Maryland, and later earned a Master’s degree from the University of Baltimore. She impacted the lives of thousands of students as a passionate English and Drama Teacher for over 30 years at Pimlico Junior High School, Western High School, and Howard High School in Howard County, MD. After retiring from teaching, she worked for the College Bound Foundation, helping inner city students access college education, and the MD State Department of Education writing and editing curriculum.

She spent 16 of her youthful summers at Camp Louise in western MD as a camper, trainee, counselor, department head, and later became the Director. Her love of theater led her to serve on the Boards of Directors of the Baltimore School for the Arts where she was proudly the editor of the FANS newsletter, and the Everyman Theater. Niki was a founding member of Beth Tfiloh Couples Club, writing and directing performances for young couples in the 1970s, and a lifelong member of Hadassah. For many years, she was an active performer and director in community theater, but her strongest love was for her extended family.

Services are Virtual in Levinson's Chapel. Please click the view the webcast link above to watch the funeral service on Friday, April 23rd, 2021 at 12:45 pm. Interment Druid Ridge Cemetery. Please omit flowers. Contributions in her memory may be sent to the Baltimore School for the Arts, the Everyman Theater, or Camps Airy & Louise. The family will be having Shiva Friday through Monday with services on zoom and in person, services will be on Saturday night beginning at 8:45pm, and Sunday and Monday nights beginning at 7pm.
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Suzy Liebman

Posted at 12:29am
I am so sorry for the loss of long time friend. I can't list all the connections we had, but there were many.
And they were all delightful. And then Sheryl, we became friends. I have nice memories of the day trip we took to Harrisburgh a few years ago. You will have many wonderful memories .

Judy Esterson Chernak

Posted at 11:10pm
Niki (then Norma Lee) and I were in the first Bat Mitzvah class at Beth Jacob. Even then she was someone you wanted to know! In later years, I was fortunate (funny how "fortunate" and "Fortunato" meet in her life!) to know her through the years as we were both in the teaching profession. What a flair she had for the dramatic and comedic! I admired her immensely and was more than delighted when Sheryl invited me to a musicale at her home recently. My daughter Debi and Mindy were classmates and members of the quartet "The Morning Dew" whom I directed and who performed at Beth Tfiloh and elsewhere, and my Wendy took ballet for years with Mindy....such close connections and so many chances to admire and love her! She's dancing with the angels now ... probably directing them ... and bringing joy to the troupe.
I hope you can be comforted by glowing memories such as these.


Deborah Cook

Posted at 10:21am
Sending my love hugs and prayers. Magnificently wonderful person.

Martin and Harriet Kleinman

Posted at 06:54pm
Niki, a very special person in so many ways, will always be special to us ("Mickey and Henny"). She was the reason we had our first date in 1952, that led to our being still happily married 69 years later. Niki and I were friends at Forest Park High. Niki's then "steady", David, was one of Mickey's closest friends, and they decided to play matchmaker with great success. Niki, no surprise, directed a play and cast the two of us to set the stage for our teenage romance. She will always be in our hearts.

Susan Harrison

Posted at 11:19am
Dearest Cheryl,Eric, Kayla, Lianna & Mindy
I send love and my deep condolences for your loss of your incredibly amazing mother- Nikki. I was in my first show with the Vagabond group when we met. We were both teachers- she was a true actress, I was just younger with no talent or voice and she adopted me. When I had emergency surgery she refused to let me go home alone and moved me into your home. For one month I was a Cooper! Sheryl gave me her bedroom and her friendship too. Dave did red ball tours. Busy Mindy provided joyful moments. Your mother did embrace life and all of the creatures in it. Remember Ocean City.. what fun! I remember camping during a hurricane in Ocean city and lost scrabble games as no one could match her beautiful command of the language. I see her face with a endearing smile, hear her voice & laughter as Nikki with arms outstretched, fingers waving gave the best hugs. Her heart, smile and voice will always remain with me. She impacted so many people that her memory will live forever!!!
Watch out heaven Nikki is coming! Love, Susan

Leslie Mensh

Posted at 12:42am
So very sorry to learn of Nikki's passing! My late husband, Dennis Mensh lived across the street on Darwood Drive (6805). When we were dating, through our engagement, we used to babysit for Sheryl and Mindy, and enjoyed being in her and Dave's company. It was always fun to run into her in the community and 'catch up' on our families. Although it's been several years since we've seen each other, she leaves an indelible impression in our minds and hearts. Her memorial photo defines her warmth, charm a bit of impish wit and fun. Both I and Dennis were so fortunate to have known her in our younger days. May her memory forever be a blessing....

Arthur Mehlman

Posted at 10:36pm
Arny, Judy and family,
We're so sorry for the loss of your beloved Niki. Whenever we met her, mainly at your family simchas, Niki was always warm, friendly and upbeat. From the many fond "Niki" stories you shared with us, it was obvious that you had a very special relationship and that she and her family played an important role in your lives. We wish we had known her better; she was clearly one of a kind! Please accept our condolences.
Judy & Art

Susan Fleishman

Posted at 06:38pm
So many memories spanning 50 years! Niki truly will be truly missed by the many of us whose lives she has touched. And I love the photo you chose: Niki with her signature smile, waving goodbye as she sets off on yet another adventure!

Howard I Getlan

Posted at 11:45am
Arnold, Judy & Family: We are so sorry to hear of the loss of your sister. Please accept our condolonces at this time.
Mimi & Howard

Ruth Schnitzer

Posted at 11:41am
Dear Family,

So sorry to hear of the passing of Nikki. What a great gal she was. When I worked at Western High School in the office Nikki taught English and Drama and fell in love with Angelo Fortunato. They were a great team. Nikki was adored by all her students and faculty. May all the wonderful memories you have of Nikki be a living memorial to her. May she RIP.

Sylvia Finglass

Posted at 11:26am
So sorry to hear about Nikkis passing. I remember all the good times we hand on Darwood Dr. and always seeing her smile

Lee Kappelman

Posted at 09:29am
Niki was a force in my life from my days as her "favorite" drama student at Western High School to most recently as an inspiration to become the Co-Chair of the Western 175th Anniversary Shine the Light gala. She believed in embracing life, shining the light, and making drama out of the ordinary and extraordinary. She had an indominable spirit and a fierceness filled with love and creativity. Her light will always shine in my memory and in the memory of all who knew her. I love you, Niki and you are forever in my heart.

Steve Goldklang

Posted at 10:26pm
Just learned about Nikki's passing and I'm so sad that she is no longer with us. Besides our Airy/Louise connection, Nikki, as you know, worked with me as my Producer on several Vagabond shows I directed and I was in total awe of her dedication/devotion to the theater and her determination and fierce resolve to make every production the very best it could be. She was an incredibly warm, generous and talented lady and a dear friend.

Paula Berger

Posted at 09:13pm
Sheryl, Mindy, Arny, Judy, and family,
We are so very sorry for your loss. We have many fond memories of time spent at Judy and Arny’s with Niki.
Paula and Lou


Revanne Aronoff

Posted at 08:25pm
So sorry to read about Nikki’s passing. Whenever I saw her it brought back many happy memories of University of Maryland and the Phi Sig house. She was really a special and talented person. My sincere condolences.

eric katkow

Posted at 07:38pm
Niki was one of the nicest people I've ever known. I once told her she made me feel badly--quickly she corrected my grammar--I said she was wrong and she ran out to her car to get her grammar book and showed me that I was wrong. One feels bad--not badly. I will miss her!!

Jodi Malin Stappler

Posted at 06:59pm
Sheryl, Mindy and family- So lucky to have known your funny, talented mom for almost all of my life. Can remember the times spent drawing our artwork on the “walls” of your Dumbarton home all those years ago as young girls. The special bond our moms had will live on in all of our hearts. I know she’s dancing and singing in heaven. Sending love to you all.

Carole abel

Posted at 06:13pm
Saddened to have lost such a colorful person; Barry and I enjoyed seeing Niki on stage, we saw 'The Bat'' at the Vagabond YEARS ago and she brought the house down! Sending Mindy and Sheryl's families good thoughts and hope this can be a better year. All the best from Florida, Barry and Carole Abel

Paul D Schneider

Posted at 05:20pm
Dear Sheryl and Eric, Kayla and Lianna,
Our condolences on your loss.
I am certain that I met your mom, Sheryl, when the girls were at Schechter.
Marilyn joins me in the extending to you these words from our tradition-
HaMakom yenahem etkhem.
May God comfort you among the other mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Sharan Kushner

Posted at 05:17pm
Niki was one of the "ladies" of the famous "ladies night out" that Carole Sibel joyfully started. I was the new kid in the group (!) and Niki was a warm, loving and funny friend....even though I couldn't sing and dance :(
She will truly be missed, my deepest condolences.

Allan Amernick

Posted at 05:04pm
My thoughts and prayers are with you. She was an inspirational teacher who taught me English and later drama. R.I.P. !

Mignon Rosenthal

Posted at 01:56pm
Nikki was a force of nature and I was proud to call her friend..We graduated from Forest Park in Feb53 and kept in touch for years after that..I haven't seen her for many years but still have fond memories especially of a memorable jaunt to Ocean City with the girls of 53 where we celebrated our 40th! I know Nikki will be missed because she impacted so many lives

Pepe and Doris Sandoval

Posted at 01:52pm
Dear Mindy, Sheryl, and the rest of the family:
She left this world in better shape than when she came into it. We are all grateful, but still saddened.
Our love to you all.

Ellen Brodie Sanders

Posted at 01:46pm
So many of my memories of Niki are childhood ones. We lived across the street on Darwood Drive, our parents were good friends (remember them using a child monitor so they could hang out together at one house or the other?), and we were good friends as well. Niki was a special friends to my mom until Jackee passed away. Coopers and Brodies will always be connected. Sheryl and Mindy - so sorry for you loss. She will always be in your hearts.

Ellen Fradin Beebe

Posted at 01:01pm
I am so sorry to hear about Nikki. I was her student at Western from 1972-1975. I was also assistant director with her for out senior play. The Many Lives of Dobbi Gillis. The best teacher and friend anyone could hope for.

Sheila and Harold Fox

Posted at 12:50pm
Dear Arnie and Family

Please accept our deepest condolences on the passing of your sister, NiKi. We have pleasant memories of Niki going back to the years growing up on Jonquil Ave to our participation in the Beth Tfiloh Couples Club. Niki was truly one of a kind and will be remembered affectionately with a smile. May your many memories comfort you at this time of sorrow and forever.

Neal Shaivitz

Posted at 12:38pm
Cheryl and Family,
I'm so sorry for your loss.

Marci Scher

Posted at 12:18pm
May her memory be for a blessing

Faith Schreiber Feingold

Posted at 11:56am
Always smiling...

Janice Yerman Bolten

Posted at 11:55am
Dear Arnold and Judy---
My thoughts are with you and your family on the loss of your beloved sister Niki. Sending deepest condolences.

Bob Schaftel

Posted at 11:43am
Arnold,So very sorry for your loss.May she rest in peace.

Beth Tfiloh Congregation

Posted at 11:40am
Beth Tfiloh Congregation regrets the passing of Norma "Niki" Harris, mother of our member Sheryl Cooper, and sister of our member, Arnold Zerwitz, and extends sincere condolences to the entire family.

Joan Willen Cohen

Posted at 10:26am
So sorry to hear about the loss of your beloved Niki. Niki and I worked together supporting educational programs for Baltimore City School children at Everyman Theatre. Niki was a jewel. She will certainly be missed.

Barbara Cohen

Posted at 10:20am
I was a student at Pimlico Junior High and remember a smile, and a strong and fair educator. I was also blessed to be guided by Mr. Fortunato. Those were wonderful times to be a learner. May you all know the beautiful impact they had on so many lives and influences on career choices. I went on to teach young children for 43 years. May their memories bring smiles to your faces forever.

Bonnie Dunn

Posted at 09:06am
So sorry to hear of Niki’s passing. As my neighbor of many years, I still think of her house as Niki’s home even though she moved several years ago. My sincere condolences to the family. She will be missed by many.

Marsha Sober

Posted at 08:48am
I loved working with Nikki at Pimlico Junior High. I was a new teacher, and Nikki was an amazing, dynamic mentor. I will never forget our school trip to Broadway where Nikki arranged for all the students to meet privately with Hal Holbrook.

Debra Kirk

Posted at 08:33am
I was saddened to hear of Nikkis passing. She was truly one of a kind and will be remembered affectionately with a smile. May her memory be for a blessing

Sandy Krome Cohen

Posted at 07:56am
Dear family,
My thoughts are with you during this sad time. However, I have great memories of Mrs. Cooper when I attended Western High in 1973-74. She was a vivacious teacher and a motivating force for me and other students at Western. May her memory be for a blessing and give you strength now and always.

Sally Pruce Schramm Block

Posted at 06:57am
Dear Mindy and Cheryl,
I remember babysitting for you both on Darwood Drive. Your Mom and my Mom had a special relationship back in the day. I wrote about them both being at Pimlico and Western on Facebook and "Niki" commented a couple of times. May your many memories of your Mom comfort you now and forever be a blessing.

Helen Rosenthal-Struck

Posted at 05:48am
Dearest Mindy and Cheryl,
How hard to read this sad news over Facebook. I am sending you my deepest condolences and will always remember your mom as the most energized and positive person. She has passed on her wonderful energy down to both of you and will live forever through your loving and caring personalities. I am sorry to be so far away in another country, but will be there in spirit with you today. I hope she will find my mom somewhere and they can continue to be crazy together! Much love and strength to you all today.

Melody Cooper

Posted at 01:52am
Dear Sheryl and Mindy,
My deepest condolences to you and the family on your Mother’s passing. She was Ronnie’s favorite cousin and my favorite English teacher.

John and Kathy Harris

Posted at 09:44pm
Niki was a great neighbor and friend, she will be missed. Always looking for the bright side of life and loved to tell stories of her life and adventures. Niki, you will be remembered and your family will be in our thoughts and prayers.

Alisa Lovera

Posted at 09:24pm
Some of my fondest Memories of Grandma Niki were from Lianna's Birthdays at "Chop Chop" and of Niki being the Auctioneer at the Hadassah Chanukah events in Howard County. I always loved her strong voice and how theatrical she was.

Karen Levin

Posted at 09:23pm
My sincere condolences to Niki's family. I am blessed for having known Niki's daughter Sheryl for so many years, since Camp Louise in the '70s. As a result, I got to know Niki a bit and shared several holidays with this large and colorful family. Niki will be missed and remembered by many.

Joan and Jeff Forman

Posted at 04:18pm
Dear Sheryl and Eric

We are saddened to learn of Niki's passing. We pray that your memories of your Mom are always for a blessing and bring you comfort.

Love, Joan and Jeff

Irene (Loebenson) Vale

Posted at 03:43pm
The picture of Nikki at Camp Louise
Is how I will always remember her
Friends since the age of nine
So many wonderful memories of the
Times we spent together
RIP, Nickki

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