Norma Phillips was born in the coalfields in the little town of Keystone, WV. She started working after school and on weekends at age 14, and never had time to participate in high school athletics. There was no money for college, so she started working at Appalachian Power Company in Welch, WV. She married Glenn Phillips in 1949 and when he joined the State Police, they were transferred to Parkersburg, which they both loved. When transfer time came, not wanting to leave Parkersburg, Glenn resigned and went to work at DuPont, where he worked for 33 years. They had two children: Cynthia and Gregory.

Norma loved working with children, and was a Girl Scout leader for ten years and a Cub Scout Den Mother for three years, while working full time. After working as a church secretary for nine years, Norma worked in accounting during her children's junior high, senior high and college years. She was determined to help her children get their college education.

After the children left home, Norma decided it was time to do something for herself. She enrolled in Parkersburg Community College (now WVU-Parkersburg) and earned an academic scholarship and studied accounting there for six years. Never having had time for any athletic programs, she joined an aerobics class and started getting fit. At age 47, she took up running and loved it from day one. Norma ran races for 22 years. She joined the River City Runners and for 15 years, the club was operated out of her home. Norma was secretary, treasurer, newsletter editor, membership chairman and equipment chairman for many years. She worked on every race committee and at every race. Running was the love of her life. At age 70, no longer able to run, Norma retired from the running club. She has taken up race walking.

Norma's husband died in 1997, and her daughter, Cynthia passed away in 2000. With very few family members left in her life, Norma decided to set up the Norma S. Phillips Cross Country Runners Scholarship through the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation to support the scholarship program of the River City Runners organization.