Norma Paulus was a lawyer and republican politician in the state of Oregon. Born in Nebraska during the Great Depression, Paulus and her family left their farm to escape the Dust Bowl and moved to Oregon, in search of new opportunities. Paulus was raised in Eastern Oregon, where she overcame poverty and polio to become a legal secretary and graduated from law school with honors, despite not attending college. She was elected as a representative to the Oregon state legislature in 1970 and served three terms representing Marion County. Paulus then became the first woman elected to statewide office in Oregon in her successful bid for Secretary of State in 1976. After a narrow loss in her run for governor, Paulus served on the Northwest Power Planning Council, two terms as Oregon Superindendent of Public Instruction, and as the executive director of the Oregon Historical Society.