Daniel O. Norris, dad, grandpa, train guy, former Scoutmaster, animal lover and generous soul, died February 9, 2021 in his home in Decatur, Texas, after a long illness. Dan was born in his family’s very modest (that’s being generous) home in Brazos, Texas in 1937. Years later, he had to convince the county clerk to write him into the county’s birth records for 1937 so he could get a birth certificate. (Imagine that conversation, y’all.)
He was the youngest of five brothers, and his older brothers never let him forget where he was in the line. Dan followed his grandpa, dad, and brothers into the “family business,” railroading. He joined the Rock Island Railroad in Fort Worth, Texas, as a teenager. After serving in the U.S. Army, Dan returned to Fort Worth, working for the Rock Island full time while obtaining his undergraduate degree from the University of Texas at Arlington. Dan played trains his whole career, working for the Illinois Terminal Railroad Company, the United States Railway Association, and finally with the Federal Railway Administration.
Anyone who knows Dan also knows that he did all things in his own time and in his own way. If he built it, it was not going to fall apart. He was a master storyteller (his Uncle George called him “Windy” - as in windbag - because of his tales) and he loved cracking jokes with his scores of friends across the country. He served many years as a Scoutmaster for two different Boy Scout troops in Northern Virginia. He said that next to being a dad, working with his Scouts was the most rewarding thing he did in his life. He asked that we bury him in his Scout uniform.
He loved animals. If it had fur or feathers, he would watch it, feed it and be awed by it. He’s the only person we know who intentionally fed racoons in his backyard. (Word got out by racoon telegram and he had families of them coming for dinner nightly. They all had names, too.) He had a pet fox as a kid – Foxy. An abandoned, shaggy, long-haired white cat found him in Decatur, took pity on him and adopted him. Yes, the cat adopted Dan. Dan did not want a cat – until he did. Dan and Paco were fast friends until Paco succumbed to cancer last year. Dan said the vet told him Paco had six months to live in 2016. With Dan’s love and attention, Paco was with him for four years.
He leaves behind his two children, Kelli Carlton and Chris Norris; his son-in-law, John Carlton; his two grandsons, J.D. and Michael Carlton; his daughter-in-law, Carrie Norris; his granddaughter, Kilee Norris; her fiancé, Kaileb Phillips; and friends living on both coasts and everywhere in between. He was preceded in death by his mother and father (Mammaw and Honey), all his brothers (J.M., Tex, C.O. and Burt) and also by his buddy, Paco.
Dan’s family would be touched by memorial donations made in his honor to the animal shelter of your choice or to the Boy Scouts of America National Capital Area Council.
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