Peggy Jean Norris

[ Age 80 ] The Mississippi native was a career counselor for students at Catonsville Community College.

Mrs. Norris followed politics closely, never holding back criticism of candidates, but speaking her mind in a polite way.

September 25, 2007|By Kelly Brewington | Kelly Brewington,Sun reporter

Peggy Jean Weeks Norris, a career adviser at Catonsville Community College, died Wednesday of complications from intestinal surgery. She was 80.

Born Peggy Jean Weeks on a cotton and cattle farm in Canton, Miss., Mrs. Norris was the older of two children. She spent her free time taking airplane flying lessons and caring for the family pet - a scarlet macaw her father brought home from Honduras, where he had worked on a banana plantation.

Mrs. Norris first met her future husband, Ray N. Norris, at age 10, when her family rented farmland from Norris' grandmother. They met again while he was studying engineering at Louisiana State University.

They married in 1948 after Mr. Norris was discharged from the Army, moving to Pittsburgh, San Diego and eventually to Catonsville. The couple were married 59 years.

After raising four children, Mrs. Norris took a job helping students navigate career choices at Catonsville Community College, now the Catonsville campus of the Community College of Baltimore County.

An avid reader and listener to conservative talk radio, Mrs. Norris was known for correcting other people's grammar.

"No matter what it was, any infraction was corrected," said her daughter, Rebecca Norris of Catonsville.

She followed politics closely, never holding back criticism of candidates but speaking her mind in a polite, Southern way. "She never swore," her daughter said, "but she had strong opinions."

Mrs. Norris and her husband volunteered for 30 years at the Baltimore County Board of Elections.

"From the time I was 4 or 5, I remember them talking about Adlai Stevenson," Ms. Norris said. "They were always going to different candidates' offices and getting stickers and buttons. But she had extremely high standards."

Mrs. Norris loved to shop for antiques, but spent most of that time searching for gifts for others, her daughter said.

"She was always finding things that other people would like," she said. "You'd have to make her spend on herself."

Still, Mrs. Norris amassed a collection of artwork made from shells as well as decorative turquoise glass. "She had a very keen eye," her daughter said. "She just loved antique stores."

Mrs. Norris also loved needlepoint and was an avid gardener who took pride in her day lilies.

Nearly every Sunday, she baked sourdough bread, making sure to deliver extra loaves to her children and neighbors. "It was wonderful," her daughter said, "especially right out of the oven."

Private services are planned for tomorrow.

In addition to her husband and daughter, survivors include two other daughters, Maggie Denison of Towson and Nancy Bruno of Sykesville; a son, Timothy R. Norris of LaPaz, Bolivia; and three grandchildren.

kelly.brewington@baltsun.com

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