January 24, 1927 - April 26, 2016
January 24, 1927 - April 26, 2016
Beverly - Walter Norris 89, passed away on Tuesday, April 26th, 2016, surrounded by his loving family. Walter was born and raised in Carrickbeg, part of the town of Carrick-on-Suir, in County Tipperary, Ireland, the son of John and Mary (Murphy) Norris. As a youth he spent many hours in and on the river Suir which flowed through the town, joining his father on the Knocknagow, the river barge he captained which transported goods between Carrick and Waterford. After a brief stint in Belfast, where he learned the skills of radio operation and maintenance, and then in Manchester, England, Walter immigrated to the United States in 1949, living in Cambridge with his aunt and uncle. A year later he was drafted into the US army at the outbreak of the Korean War. His skills with radio operation lead to him being assigned to the 43rd Signal Company, 43rd Infantry Division, and being stationed in Germany for most of his enlistment. He rose to the rank of sergeant, before being honorably discharged at the end of 1952. Walter worked for the Domino Sugar Company in Boston, first as a laborer, then as a longshoreman, and finally, after attending night classes at Northeastern University to become certified, as an instrument technician, a job he continued until his retirement in 1988, and in which he grew to know many lifelong friends.
Walter was very involved in the Irish American community in Boston in the 1950’s and 1960’s. He was the manager of the New State Ballroom. An Irish dance hall located on Mass Ave. in the area now occupied by the Christian Science Center. Walter could be found there in his suit most every Saturday night, making sure everything ran smoothly, and everyone was having fun. He was also a member, and for a time, the treasurer of the Young Ireland Hurling Club, and was a lifelong fan of hurling in Boston. He was committed to the cause of a united Ireland, and was involved in the Irish Northern Aid Committee, and the Massachusetts Friends of Irish Republican Prisoners. He was also a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians, and the the Knights of Columbus Back Bay Council. Walter met his wife Ann Philomena (Hanlon) through an army friend and fellow Irishman Michael Hanlon, of Cambridge, her brother. They were married in 1959 and lived for a year in Quincy, before buying a house in Beverly where they raised their four children. Walter was a devoted father, involving himself as much as time would allow in his children’s activities. He was a member of St Mary’s parish in Beverly, and sent his four children to St. Mary’s School. When the school was threatened with closing in the late 1970’s he was part of an energetic group of parents who formed a school council, and undertook various fundraising projects to save the school. He became a Eucharistic Minister for St. Mary’s church in the 1990’s, volunteering his time to go to local hospitals and nursing homes to deliver communion to those who could not get to church. Grandchildren were coming along by this time, and he adored them all, as they did him. He was a voracious reader, and in his later years could usually be found with a book in his favorite chair. He was a gifted storyteller, who seemed to have a million stories to tell and would tell them to anyone who would listen. To Walter there were no strangers, only friends he had not yet met. He was non-judgemental. He accepted people as they were, and believed strongly in the concept of tolerance. Walter was a very faithful Catholic, and his faith grew stronger as the years went by.
He is survived by his son John and his wife Janet (Rocca) of Beverly, and their children Michael, and his wife Kelli Farrington, of Newton, Brendan, of Austin, Texas, and Christina, who currently resides in Qatar, as well as his daughter Maria Judy and her husband Robert Martin and their daughter Kristina and son Christian of Beverly, his son Brian and his wife Marcie Sidman and their daughter Cara, and son Dan, all of Beverly, and his daughter Lisa and her sons James, and Benjamin of Berwick Maine, as well as his brother Jim, of Omaha Nebraska, and many dozens of nieces, nephews, grand, and great-grand nieces/nephews. Along with his parents, he was predeceased in December by his loving wife Ann Philomena (Hanlon) Norris,with whom he shared 56 years of marriage, by his brothers Tom, of Carrick-on Suir, and Jack, of Dorchester, MA, as well as his sisters, Bea, of Carrick on Suir, and Boston, Kitty, of Dublin, Ireland, and Nellie, of Manchester, England.
His funeral Mass will be celebrated at St. Mary Star of the Sea Church, 253 Cabot Street, Beverly, Monday, May 2, 2016 at 11 a.m. Relatives and friends are invited to attend. Visiting hours at the Campbell Funeral Home, 525 Cabot Street, Beverly, Sunday from 1 to 5 p.m. Burial in St. Mary’s Cemetery, Beverly. Expressions of sympathy may be made in his memory to Care Dimensions, 75 Sylvan St., Danvers, MA 01923. Information, directions, condolences at www.campbellfuneral.com
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