Catherine Elizabeth (Howell) Norris
AUGUSTA - Now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love, 1 Corinthians 13:13. By God’s grace and the faithful testimony of her life, we had blessings beyond measure bestowed upon us simply by having had Catherine in our lives. For she was truly the sweetest person we have ever known.
Catherine (Cathy) Norris, 85, of Augusta, Georgia, entered fully into the presence of her Lord and Savior, early Monday morning, September 11, 2017, at Silverleaf of Athens Assisted Living Community in Athens, Georgia. Set free from Alzheimer’s Disease, that which she could see through the mirror only dimly, she now sees face to face; for that which she knew and could remember only in part, she now knows fully, just as she has been always fully known.
Catherine Elizabeth Howell was born February 10, 1932. By Divine providence, she was the oldest and only daughter of three children born to Lee Clemens and Mabel Harloam Howell. She grew up near the rural Moxley Community, where her parents were farmers and owners of L.C. Howell Grocery, a thriving business fronting the very busy U.S. Route 1, midway between Louisville and Wadley, Georgia. Upon graduation from Wadley High School at age 16, she married Bert Norris, Jr. in the Moxley Baptist Church on May 10, 1948 and began her life’s calling in service as unto the Lord. As a young wife, homemaker and devoted mother to four knucklehead boys, she was strong and resolute in her Christian faith, and wise beyond her years. Catherine was blessed with the perfect balance of patience, kindness, humility, unconditional love and strength of character needed to manage a vibrant household and overcome the trials and tribulations of raising a family, including Bert, himself.
The growing Norris family moved from Wadley to Millen, Georgia and then to Augusta, Georgia in 1954, when Bert was transferred by Southern Bell. Augusta became home, where Catherine would spend the next 63 years of her life. It was also during this same time that Bert’s daughter was growing up in Glen Rose Texas. Though visits back and forth for her were few, Catherine loved her and claimed her as her own. She became the daughter, perhaps even the younger sister, which Catherine herself never had. Their relationship flourished and lasted a lifetime.
In a leap of faith in 1955, with hard work, determination and very little else, Catherine and Bert, with youngsters in tow, started Security Fence Company of Augusta, Inc., going into business for themselves. The family and the business grew, and grew up, together. Now, 62 years later, it continues as the oldest and longest serving fencing business in the CSRA, owned by son, Alan.
Catherine was a gifted musician, playing both piano and organ. When the Norris family became part of the founding of Crestview Baptist Church in their local community, she acted upon the calling of the Lord in her life, offering her talents to become the church’s first organist. She served in this capacity for many years and was instrumental in helping to establish and expand the music ministry of the church.
Catherine was a natural athlete. She excelled at every sport and activity she attempted, from cards and board games to badminton, tennis, softball, bowling and golf, and she passed along that love of all sports to her sons. She and the entire family learned to play golf after becoming one of the founding members of Green Meadows Country Club in 1962. She developed into a fine player, and as a member of the Ladies Golf Association, she held numerous positions of leadership over the years. The Norris’ played thousands of rounds of golf over the next 42 years while creating great family times and fond memories, now frequently recalled, but more often, revised. Catherine was also an exceptional bowler and carried a high average on her Security Fence sponsored team on Wednesday mornings in the Housewives League at the Masters Bowling Lanes.
Games, however, were only games to her and they were just for fun, never serious. She spent most of her time tending to and chauffeuring boys and teams of every sport to games and events all over Augusta and beyond, perfectly content to be just a mom spending time with her family and friends.
Catherine was a wonderful homemaker and a fantastic cook. She made certain there was always plenty to eat, and the fact that there were never any leftovers was praise enough for her. Yet, she was more than willing to be only a helper when Bert was in the kitchen whipping up yet another of his signature masterpieces. It pleased her immensely for him to get all the credit and accolades while she cleaned up his mess and restored her kitchen to order and cleanliness.
She had clear spiritual understanding in matters of the heart and soul and of the most important priorities in life. Never taking herself too seriously, she was fun, and funny, and she was forever young-at-heart. Even unto her last days with us, we never knew when or what she might blurt out.
Catherine was stylish and she was cool; she was way cool before moms could even be cool. What other mom would allow a manicured suburban lawn to be converted into a Go Cart racetrack surrounding the house? Then to the yard was added a baseball field, a football field, a basketball court and a golf course during the appropriate season. There were firecrackers and bottle-rockets and during the latter teenage years, five or six family cars parked all over the front yard. What mom would allow a full-sized pinball machine (including hundreds of nickels for play) in the dining room, the only eating room in a house of six, by the way? In 1960, the Norris home was also the first and only one known to have a telephone mounted on the wall next to the toilet, in the only bathroom in the house. Wish we had recordings of some of the enlightening sounds and conversations held on that phone. What about the bowling alley in the hallway and the roughhousing and wrestling matches and every sport known to humanity played inside the house during inclement weather? What other mom would have been cool with all those?
The house may have been simple and small, but it was home, and the Norris home was always “the place” to be for all the kids in the neighborhood and for friends from all over. For over 50 years, it remained as the central gathering place where all the Norris’ and all the friends still wanted to be, show up and catch up, hang out for a while or stay for days. There were always tons of great food, fun, laughs, sports and entertainment (Bert was always the main act in the entertainment department). It was an atmosphere of easy-going, laid-back southern hospitality and charm, and Catherine made it so. Disciplined, organized, and efficient with a big servant’s heart - she had it all together – so, the more, the better. She was natural, she was genuine and she made everyone feel as one of her own. It was simply who she was.
Years later, she particularly enjoyed the special times with her grandchildren when they would all go play putt-putt or bowling and then out to eat. Her lake house in Plum Branch at Clarks Hill was the setting for fishing and other nonstop activities centered around water. All the generations of Norris kids had a special, selfless lady who loved them, would do anything for them, was delighted to get down on the floor with them, play with them, act like them and just have fun with them. And, feed them.
When she and Bert became empty nesters after their sons moved on, Catherine decided that she might enjoy branching out into the workplace. She took her countless skills to the Augusta National Golf Club where she had a wonderful and productive career for many years, while meeting and making friends with those from every place and station in life. She retired in 1997 as Manager of the Club’s Housekeeping Department, where her responsibility had been to supervise and direct the efforts of her staff to ensure that all the Club’s facilities maintained the highest standards of order and cleanliness. It was the very position for which she was perfectly suited.
Catherine was a member of Hillcrest Baptist Church for over 50 years and she cherished every minute of time she spent with her church family. She especially loved all her dear friends in the “Dabney” Sunday school class where her ever radiant and kind smile always brightened everyone’s day. As her sunset years approached, Catherine continued in her daily Bible reading and prayer time. She stayed active with books, working crossword puzzles, watching TV, particularly sports and her favorite show “Reba” and she was always on the lookout for opportunities to “dote” on her family and friends. Catherine and a few of her special long-time friends (from the neighborhood and church) were cohorts in a crew they called the “Golden Girls. They were such “cut-ups” and had so much fun and fellowship together when they were out and about for their weekly social adventures.
Catherine’s parents, L. C. and Mabel Howell, and her (late) husband of 55 years, Bert Norris, Jr. (2004), precede her in death. She is survived by her four sons; Ron (Beverly) Norris of Otto, N.C., Don (Brenda) Norris of Athens, Georgia, Alan (Arlene) Norris of Martinez, Georgia, Joe (Christy) Norris of Grovetown, Georgia, and stepdaughter Saundra (Curtis) Marquis of Glen Rose, Texas; two younger brothers William (Margie) Howell of Stockbridge, Georgia and Jim (Margaret) Howell of Eatonton, Georgia. She has 13 grandchildren, 14 great-grandchildren, and 8 great-great grandchildren and many nieces and nephews, each of whom she dearly loved and always treated as special, making everyone feel as one of her own.
The Norris family would like to give special recognition to Silverleaf of Athens Assisted Living Community, Mrs. Dorothy Sexton and her entire staff. We are so thankful and appreciative for the genuine love, care, compassion, service and comfort they provided for our Mother and the Norris family during the few months of her stay. The family also wishes to extend their most heartfelt gratitude to Homestead Hospice Care of Athens for their love, compassion and support of our Mother during her last five weeks of her stay at Silverleaf.
Catherine had great compassion for others. As was so typical of her in living out her faith with action, she has bequeathed her body to medical science. Always the planner, she long ago decided to become a registered donor with the Medical College of Georgia at Augusta University in its ANATOMICAL DONATION PROGRAM. The Norris family supported Catherine’s decision and the family is grateful for the kind assistance provided by Mr. David Johnson of Augusta University. The following link provides information about this very worthwhile program: www.augusta.edu/mcg/cba/bodydonation/
Mr. Dale Rogers of Lord and Stephens Funeral Home of Athens, Georgia (www.lordandstephens.com) is serving the Norris family with this Online Tribute BOOK OF MEMORIES of Catherine. This is our story of her, a Living Memorial Celebration of her Life. We are honored and grateful to have the opportunity to share, in words and pictures, a mere glimpse of the Catherine we knew and so loved.
The Norris family would like to thank Catherine’s many friends and family for taking the time to visit. Please access the “Memories” tab to view the many pictures of her made part of this tribute. We encourage you to leave a condolence or share a personal story or photo of your memories and times with her.