(The following was written by James Hohenzy in an email to several others who knew Norris and was provided by Norris’ wife Shelley for publication on the McK website.)
Norris Graser passed about 3 AM, April 16, 2023 AD, Eastern Orthodox Easter Sunday, of a heart attack. Earth has lost one of the most interesting, interested, knowledgeable, pensive, capable, multitalented, moral, decent human beings (with an active, sometimes sardonic sense of humour) it has ever been this writer’s honour to know, much less having been granted the privilege of calling, “close friend.”
Norris remained an active, competent, artful scale modeler, interested in the hobby since single-digit age, especially 1/48 WW II and Post- aircraft and of “recent,” dinosaur kits.
Norris had worked up until the companies’ end with Monogram and (US) Revell and had done consultation, kit-box-buildups and markings research for them.
Norris was a very capable (electric) guitarist with a splendid stable of high quality instruments and possessed a wide knowledge of brands / instruments histories, players, variations.
Norris owned a model decal company (Thundercals) devoted to his passion; Republic P-47 Thunderbolts. No doubt, he was one of the planet’s authorities on the aircraft, markings and kits thereof. He also acquired a large number of other discontinued decals and maintained a casual business, selling them on the cosmicnet and at modeling events.
Norris was a master aviation photographer, historian and historiographer; he maintained relationships where he was able, as recent as last month, travel to military bases and take photos. No question, he has ten or more thousand images.
Norris’ depth of knowledge of and vast, repeat, vast library of “classic” popular, especially guitar-oriented music was whelming.
Norris was a devoted husband to Shelley and father to his son Dave.
Norris was a staunch lover of this country and the best of it and visibly, greatly pained by its decline.
Norris and James shared a love of our canine friends, in his case, “Lil’ Ed”, a big, black lap-Lab who is anything but little. Named for the founder of the Blues Imperials band.
Norris was “dad” to a number of turtles and tortoises and knew a small library about them…Shelley and his son have a serious maintenance job, there.
Norris’ “reptiles” interest was further evident in his knowledge of and skillful, imaginative modeling of, dinosaurs and kits.
Norris had a phenomenal memory and was super-well-versed on old TV shows / series and campy “monster / space movies” as well.
Norris competently wrote the IPMS McKinstry newsletter as well…for a long time.
Ralph, ‘gotta stop now. Please pray Norris’ soul is now in the eternal keeping and care of The Almighty. May he remain fondly in our memories and check in on those of us who valued him, from The Beyond.
PS If any of this is does not strike as truly dotted i-s / crossed t-s accurate to any of you who also knew Nor well, please excuse and forgive; it’s only this writer’s POV…as he remembers a cherished pal.
Sad to say, Norris and I had corresponded, but never met. My condolences to family and friends. Norris is another of the many IPMS members I would have have liked to get to know better, but now never will. I had especially wanted to through him expand my oddly remote kinship to the McKinstry chapter namesake; Captain James McKinstry; who I also never knew. A C-130 pilot, Jim had died in the shoot down of his C-130B in the A Shau valley of Vietnam of his C-130B on April 26th, 1968. It’s an area I’d frequently flown similar missions, first in my C-123, and the C-130 on a later tour. When Jim was lost, I was back in ‘nam a third time; “down south” as a USAF advisor on my LAST tour as a USAF “TALO”: a tactical airlift advisor to the Army’s 25th Infantry Division, at Cu Chi. So there are many bittersweet memories; and the names of too many friends on that wall in Washington. This spring it’s been sixty years since that first adventure started with herding a C-123 across the broad Pacific on a squadron deployment TO Vietnam….
Fred, thanks for the kind words about Norris, and thank you for your service.
It’s poignant that you posted your note on the 50th anniversary of the night Vietnam POWs were hosted at a White House dinner in their honor.
Many have served, and that service cost many of them extreme hardship, if not their lives.
I’ve enjoyed reading your contributions to the Marietta chapter newsletters. Even though we’ve never met, I feel like you’re an old friend. I wish I’d joined the IPMS community sooner than I did – now I’m trying to make up for lost time. 🙂
Frank …thanks for your kind reply.
About the POW anniversary: one of them was Tom Curtis, a friend I’d known from an earlier assignment in Germany in the early 1960’s. An HH-43 rescue pilot (long before the Jolly Greens, etc.)), when shot down in 1965 he became one of the longest of all imprisoned: EIGHT YEARS, having been shot down in Laos on a rescue mission while flying out of NKP way up north in Thailand, just across the Mekong from Laos.
As the years slip by I become more aware of just how fortunate I have been to have survived it all ….theee ‘nam tours plus a nasty little “Civil War” in the Congo that most Americans were aware, EVEN AT THE TIME!
You mentioned my e-scribblings: one of my most recent was about in 1963 making the very first landing by anybody to open NKP. (Nakhon Phanom), just after the Seabees had finished the runway (and ONLY the runway). It turned into quite an adventure. Can’t remember which chapter i sent that to but it might have been Chuck Davenport’s Marietta (GA) chapter. “It’s. Only a Newsletter”, newslettet
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