Thursday, March 26, 2009

Obituary: Percy Ellsworth Norris

Daily Iowegian - 9 January 1978
Long-time Car Dealer, Percy Norris, Succumbs
  Percy Ellsworth Norris, 71, prominent Centerville business-man, retired auto dealer, civic worker, former mayor of Centerville, active Republican, long-time member of the Centerville and Indian Hills school boards and churchman passed away Friday night, January 6, 1978.
  Mr. Norris had been ill several months, but was at his 832 South Park Avenue home until Friday. He was hospitalized at the St. Joseph Mercy Hospital in Centerville when his con-dition suddenly worsened and he died Friday night at 8:40 p.m.
  His death removes from the local scene a man who was a moving force in Centerville over a long period of time.
  He had served in wide-ranging capacities.
  Consider these activities:
  - Served on the Centerville School Board for 25 years, much of that time as chairman.
  - Served on the Indian Hills Community College Board for seven years. During that time he was in the forefront of the fight to obtain the new Centerville campus.
  - Served on the Centerville Chamber of Commerce Board for many years and was active in a multitude of Chamber projects.
  - Served as mayor of Centerville in 1974-1975 at a time Centerville was moving into many new undertakings. Previous to that he served a term as a city councilman.
  - He was a delegate to the Republican National Convention.  At one time he was a candidate for Congress, and through the years an active party worker.
  - Served 12 years as a member of the Iowa Aeronautics Commission.
  - Served as a lieutenant of the Air Patrol during World War II and until 1960.
  He was a charter member of the Lions Club and held a long-time membership in the Rotary Club.
  His civic interest continued to the last.  He was president of the Centerville Building and Development Corporation, a unique major housing program planned just east of Center-ville. The program was financed by a special HUD grant and was regarded in civic and governmental circles as very unusual and unique.
  However, his most cherished activity was his church work.
  Mr. Norris was a member and elder of the Gospel Chapel and had served as treasurer of that church. He was a charter member of the Gideon's International. The Centerville camp was established in 1960, and he served as first president and as chaplain and treasurer.
  He served as director of the Willowbrook Bible Camp.
  It was his business interest that required most of his time despite his heavy civic and church schedule.
  He was a 1925 Centerville High School graduate and joined his brother, Glen Norris, who had an automobile agency.
  Shortly thereafter, Percy headed the Norris Motor Company. He continued as head of the auto firm until 1974.
  His long business tenure established him as one of the deans of the business community.
  Born March 27, 1906, in Numa, he was the son of Jacob A. and Anna Rains Norris.  He attended Numa and Centerville Schools, and was graduated from Centerville High School in 1925. In 1936, he was married to Willa Mae (Billie) Thompson in Des Moines, and she survives.
  Preceding him in death were his parents, three brothers, Glen, Harry and Paul Norris; and one sister, Mary Grace Norris.
  Survivors beside his widow include one daughter, Mrs. Keith (Carolyn) Owen, Centerville; three sons, John D. Norris, Fullerton, Calif.; Robert E. Norris, Garden Grove, Calif.; and Capt. RIchard M. Norris, Ramstein A.F.B., Germany; four grandchildren, three sisters, Mrs. David (Edna) Lawrence, Centerville; Mrs. Paul (Lou) White, Wayzata, Minn.; and Mrs. Doyce (Veva) Wright, Adel, Ia.; and two brothers, Charles Norris, Centerville, and Harold Norris, El Cajon, Calif.
  Services will be Tuesday, 1:30 p.m. at the Miller-Wehrle Funeral Home in Centerville, with his brother-in-law, Pastor George D. Leest of Redlands, Calif., officiating.  Burial will be in Jerome Cemetery.  A memorial has been established to the Gideon Bible Society. Memorials may be given at the funeral home. 
  The editor sincerely appreciates the contribution of this obituary to The Jerome Journal by Gary Craver of Centerville, Iowa.

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