Lewena Tye Noorda
Lewena “Tye” Walker Noorda was a philanthropist, musician, writer, and arts lover. She used her time and means to support and fund various educational, religious, and artistic organizations. She was a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.
Noorda was born on December 26, 1923, in Freedom, Utah. After she graduated from high school in Moroni, Utah, she moved to Salt Lake City to study speech and drama at the University of Utah. She worked as a secretary and a model to support herself. She then moved to New York City and continued modeling. In New York, she received the stage name “Tye” from Nat King Cole’s manager.
After her stay in New York, she moved to Salt Lake City where she met Ray Noorda. They were married on August 4, 1950 and had five children. Her husband was CEO of Novell from 1983 to 1995. He passed away in 2006.
In 2008, she made a donation in honor of her late husband to build the Noorda Regional Theatre and Center for Children and Youth at the Utah Valley University. In March 2012 she was awarded an honorary doctorate of fine arts degree at UVU in honor of her support of arts and community. President Matthew Holland said of her:
- “Tye Noorda is a woman with lofty dreams. We are thrilled that she shared her dream of creating a children’s theater with UVU. The result has been the wildly popular Noorda Regional Theatre Center for Children & Youth and a state-of-the-art black box theater. Thousands of students and youth from our region will be the beneficiaries of Tye’s generosity in coming years. We are so pleased she is receiving such a richly deserved honorary degree from UVU.”
The Orem Chamber of Commerce recognized her service and philanthropy in 2008 as Outstanding Citizen of the Year.
In 2012, she and her sons also donated $30 million to the Ray and Tye Noorda Oral Health Sciences Building at the University of Utah. Making dental care accessible to everyone was personal to Noorda. She lost two teeth in an accident as a newlywed and wasn’t able to afford to repair her teeth for a year.
In addition to her philanthropic efforts, Noorda loved the dramatic arts and wrote and directed roadshows. She wrote hymns, songs, and poems. Noorda died on April 5, 2014.