A celebration of the life of Tom Norris will be held Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017, 10:30 a.m. at Mountain Light Unitarian Universalist Church, 2502 Tails Creek Road in Ellijay.
He served as a board of directors officer at Mountain Light Unitarian Universalist Church.
Thomas H. Norris, 79, of Ellijay, died Thursday, Nov. 9, 2017.
He was born Aug. 29, 1938, to Armilda Elizabeth Norris and Lloyd Russell Norris, in North Kansas City, Mo.
He attended North Kansas High School where he was active in sports and earned his Eagle Scout badge. Working in his father’s hardware store after school, he learned to build and assemble things that would lead to a lifetime of homebuilding and remodeling. He graduated from the University of Missouri in 1960 with a B.S. in engineering, was a Delta Upsilon and was selected for the Tau Beta Pi engineering honor society among other honors.
He married Rebecca Louise West after college and entered the Army on a ROTC scholarship as a 2nd Lieutenant in 1961. He served as a helicopter pilot in Korea until he completed his service in 1964, at which time he went to work for AT&T Long Lines Division. He first served as a sales manager and recruiter in Kansas City, where his two sons were born. Following an assignment at headquarters in Bedminster, N.J., the family returned to Kansas City. He was later remarried to Beverly Jean Buzzard, in 1970. Promoted to regional sales manager, they soon moved to Dallas, Texas.
After a series of transfers and promotions, Tom and Beverly were joined by Tom’s two sons when their mother passed away and together they formed a new family.
Following a series of assignments involving something new called “data,” Tom began working in federal regulatory affairs which ultimately led him to Washington, D.C., where he was named head of AT&T’s lobbying operation. He eventually was promoted to vice president at a time when few were at that level.
In 1995, after more than 30 years with AT&T, he retired to Whitestone, Va., on the northern neck of Virginia.
Tom was an avid sailor and enjoyed taking his sons out on the boat “Auriana,” that he had rebuilt and raced on occasion. Having won a racing trophy, it was proudly displayed near his desk along with the propeller.
Later, he gave up sailing and took up photography, teaching classes and becoming a sought-after wildlife and nature photographer. He sold his art and donated the profits to help establish the Rappahannock Art League.
Beverly Norris died in 2012, and Tom reached out to his high school sweetheart, Gretchen McCormack (nee Riddle), resuming a courtship that had been cut short by her family’s move in her senior year. They picked up where they left off, embarrassing their six grown children with public displays of affection not often seen in septuagenarians. On a visit to their hometown later that year, they married in the church they had attended as youths, witnessed by Tom’s overjoyed 98 year-old mother, who had always considered Gretchen as the one that got away.
Tom and Gretchen ultimately moved to the north Georgia mountains where they built a modern home with a full view of the mountains and wildlife. Every evening they watched the sunset from the deck. They made every evening count, but they deserved more.
Tom is survived by his wife, Gretchen Norris; sister, Joy and her husband Chet George, of Gladstone, Mo.; son, Trent Norris and his husband, Jack Calhoun, of San Francisco; son, Troy Norris and his grandchildren, Jacqueline, Tyler and Jason Norris, all of Boston; as well as Gretchen’s daughter, Teresa McCormack, of Las Vegas; and her sons, Tjark Thomas McCormack, Guy McCormack and his wife Desiree, and Matthew McCormack, all of Atlanta.