Travis Norwood

[ Age 78 ] Mount Airy postmaster was honored as his community's Outstanding Person of the Year in 1995

October 18, 2006|By Frederick N. Rasmussen | Frederick N. Rasmussen,SUN REPORTER

Travis Cleary Norwood, a retired Mount Airy postmaster who was active in community affairs, died of heart failure Friday at Washington Hospital Center. He was 78.

Mr. Norwood was born in Frederick and lived the remainder of his life at his family's Paradise Avenue home in Mount Airy.

After graduating from Mount Airy High School in 1944, Mr. Norwood clerked at Smith & Wagner Grocery Store and was a bookkeeper for Pusey's Garage before joining the Mount Airy post office as a clerk in 1951.

He was officer-in-charge at the post office from 1969 to 1971, when he was appointed postmaster - a position he held until retiring in 1984.

It was a request for a postal money order from a customer that led to Mr. Norwood's 1956 marriage to the former Virginia Bond.

"She came in one day to buy a money order and didn't know how to fill it out, so he helped her. Then she began coming in each day to buy one stamp so she could talk to him. And, by the way, she was using those stamps to mail letters to her boyfriend," said their daughter, Barbara N. Schlueter of Odessa, Texas. "Then he finally asked her out, and they fell in love. That's the story I've always been told."

For most of his life, Mr. Norwood was active in the civic affairs of the town on the border of Carroll and Frederick counties and became a respected and beloved member of the community.

At his death, he was serving a second term as a member of the Mount Airy Board of Zoning Appeals and had served as chairman of the town's centennial in 1984.

He was a founder of the Mount Airy Historical Society in 1985 and the Mount Airy Museum. He was vice president for 54 years and a board member of Pine Grove Cemetery Association, for which he sold grave plots and maintained cemetery records.

Mr. Norwood was a 45-year member and past president of the Mount Airy Fire Company. He was a member of Prudence Lodge of the Masons and a former member of the Mount Airy Kiwanis Club.

Known as "Mr. Mount Airy," Mr. Norwood was honored as the town's Outstanding Person of the Year in 1995 because of his community work. He was inducted into the town's Hall of Fame in 2000.

"He was a gem, and the community will sorely miss him because he was involved with so many things. He liked keeping busy and wanted to see Mount Airy and its way of life thrive," said C. Oscar Baker, a longtime friend. "He was the type of guy you couldn't help but like. I always called him `Mount Airy's Johnny Carson' because of his dry sense of humor. The next day, you'd get what he had said the day before and then chuckle."

Mr. Baker and his friend enjoyed spending Fridays reminiscing at the Mount Airy firehouse.

"He had a fantastic memory, and we enjoyed talking over old times. He loved talking to people and would spend hours at the supermarkets talking to the clerks and customers," he said. "And if you were hurting or troubled, you always felt better after talking with Travis."

Mr. Baker was a member for 66 years of Calvary United Methodist Church on South Main Street, where he had been a trustee for nearly two decades, taught Sunday school, ushered and headed the Evangelism Committee. Services will be held there at 11 a.m. today.

Surviving, in addition to his wife and daughter, are a son, Richard J. Norwood of Elkins, W.Va.; and two grandchildren.

fred.rasmussen@baltsun.com

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