Norm Shares His Story
The Past Helps Us Better Understand
Norm, 82 & Szasz, 75
Norm Benedict is a story-teller and then some, a man of Missouri whose career as a professional communicator has taken him to places far removed from the Show Me State but whose heart and soul have never really left his hometown of Columbia and the campus of the University of Missouri where he earned an MBA degree in Journalism.
His widely praised memoir of growing up in Columbia during World War II and the years of prosperity that followed (Thumbs Up “V” For Victory, I Love You, published in 2011) is packed with memories of the small and not-so-small events of a life fully-lived, including such gems as this: “The girls we grew up with were fast becoming young women, while most of us pitiful males were still boys – creating not only a gulf but also a level of physical and mental anguish beyond description.”
The true love of Norm’s life turned out to be a woman named Wanda Joyce Szasz, herself another important part of this story. She was the daughter of a popular professional grappler named Al “The Mad Hungarian” Szasz, who at one time was the lightweight wrestling champion of the world, pleasing pro wrestling fans in Chicago, St. Louis and other venues.
Following their wedding in Columbia in 1991, Wanda willingly accepted Benedict as her new last name, but as the savvy marketing pro she is, kept her dad’s distinctive last name, and is known to one and all as the memorably named Szasz Benedict. The couple operates a communications and PR firm in Columbia, providing services to a wide range of clients in Missouri and beyond. The firm’s commitment to the Show Me State goes well beyond their business, as Norm has served as an adjunct member of the University of Missouri’s prestigious School of Journalism faculty, president of the Mid-Missouri Tourism Council, president of Columbia’s Metro Rotary Club, and other organizations.
Along the way, their business began focusing on the natural foods industry, and in 2007 the couple attended an industry expo in Baltimore where they stopped at an exhibitor’s booth for the new dietary supplement Prevagen then just going on the market. Norm was particularly drawn to the Prevagen story. He says, “I had begun to sense that my usually strong memory was slipping just a little bit as it can with normal and so both Szasz and I decided to start using the new product, and we were really impressed with the results. We are still using it today, more than 10 years after that chance encounter in Baltimore.”
“I’ve always had a strong curiosity and an awareness of the feelings of other people,” says this seemingly ageless representative example of how today’s Prevageneration is enjoying a healthy, balanced and fulfilling life. “As I’ve grown older,” Norm says, “I realize that the past helps us better understand the world as it changes all around us.”