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James Donald Norris, 82, passed away Jan. 16, 2013, at Oak Crest Retirement Center with his family by his side. Born in Richmond, Nov. 2, 1930 to Floyd and Gladys Norris, Jim or Jimmy Don as he was called, grew up in Richmond and attended Central Missouri Universityin Warrensburg. The Korean War interrupted his education, and he entered the Air Force where he served four years. Jim participated in the testing of the Hydrogen Bomb in the Marshall Islands. Immediately upon leaving the Air Force, Jim enrolled in the University of Missouri at Columbia.. He graduated with a Ph.D. in history in 1962
Jim taught at Hiram College in Hiram, Ohio; and the University of Missouri–St. Louis. In 1972 he was awarded a Fulbright Senior Lectureship in Ghana West Africa. In 1979 Jim moved toNorthernIllinois University as Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Dr. Norris’s distinguished service to NIU and to the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences from 1979-2000 included the creation of several new academic units, such as the Department of Computer Science, the Women’s Studies program, the Division of Statistics, and the Center for the Study of Family Violence and Sexual Assault. He championed new doctoral programs in biological, mathematical, and geological sciences, always with an eye toward enhancing NIU’s reputation as a comprehensive teaching and research university. Dr. Norris’ leadership ability and integrity led his colleagues to select him to serve as Executive Secretary of the University Council and then as President of the Faculty Senate. In 2011 he was a recipient of a Distinguished Faculty Award in Liberal Arts and Sciences. Above all else, Dr. Norris was a devoted faculty member. That perspective guided all of his decisions, informed his leadership style, and earned him the reputation as a fair, collegial, and transparent administrator and colleague. Although Jim taught American History, he published eight books in Business History
Besides his wife Nancy, of fifty-five years, Jim is survived by his son James Hamilton Norris, wife Irene and three children, Jimmy, Shannon and Jenny; daughter Katie Geer and children Taylor Hopper and twins Tessa and Hunter; daughter Elizabeth Dailey and son David Smith; and a sister, Joanne Gadt; brother and sister-in-law, Dr. Buford and Camille Hamilton and their children Scott and Megan and a son-in-law, Wayne Dailey.
Jim was predeceased by his parents, a brother Earl Norris and his wife, Peggy and daughter Jenny Riley, and a brother-in-law James Gadt and daughter Jo Ellen Hicks.
A memorial service was held at Feb. 15, at Westminster Presbyterian Church, in DeKalb.
Internment of the ashes will be Friday, May 31, at 11 a.m. at Sunny Slope Cemetery. Those who wish to honor his legacy may send memorials to the NIU Foundation, 134 Altgeld Hall,DeKalb,Illinois 60115.