Homer "Tot" Clyde Norris
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Homer "Tot" Clyde Norris
Few figures in Parker County, Texas, have been as beloved as Norris. Humble, inquisitive, appreciative--and gifted beyond measure--he was artist and storyteller, archaeologist and explorer, student and teacher.
One of eleven children born to a brilliant yet poor Aledo welder during the bleak days of the Great Depression, Norris roamed the countryside and found his spirit's nourishment in this land. Drawn to the romantic history of Parker County's artifacts and relics, mesmerized by the loveliness to be found in a simple iris, captivated by the tales told by old-timers, he developed a passion for beauty and formidable love for his home and its people. He gleaned joy, solace and awe from this rugged terrain.
Art, he often said, was his deliverance. A commercial artist and art director during his career, Norris considered himself an illustrator. His oil paintings, created after his retirement, soon revealed a noteworthy artist with a rare talent for melding the techniques and pensive moods of the Old Masters with a fresh, intimate appreciation for human beauty, history and the natural world.
Norris' limited edition, hand illustrated Sketchbooks, published in 1996 and 2006, were a loving gift to East Parker County from its talented native son. Told in Norris' engaging style and exquisitely illustrated in precise detail, the books are surprisingly intricate in their simplicity. As journal, memoir, history lesson, art and archaeology tutorial, the series deftly captures the essence of Norris' life and era and Parker County's compelling story. The series remains an invaluable contribution to the area's 20th century recordand a celebration of life amid the backdrop of hardscrabble times.
A child of the Great Depression, Norris once told a friend that he embraced challenges and toil. Like his admired iris, he thrived despiteand because ofthe struggle to exist in a landscape that could be harsh, during times and circumstances that often were unforgiving.
Early in life, he assumed a habit of "rambling," or walking the countryside, from which he amassed thousands of artifacts that caught his eye and captured his imagination. His collection of arrowheads, mano stones, spurs, knives, canteens and more represented Parker County's story from ancient pre-history to the early days of European settlement, and inspired Norris' lifelong love for the ethos, or cultural spirit, of Parker County.
In a manuscript he wrote shortly before his death, Norris mused, "Christ said an interesting thing, that the Christian would not see death. To me, this must mean that we merely step through a door from life to life. We are on the outside, looking inand I am comforted when I think there are hundreds of people we have known who will meet us when we make that transition. I look forward to the population of old Aledo, Texas...smiling at me as I approach.
"What have I learned about life? God is good. Family and friends are our greatest possession. There is no danger that we will become too forgiving. Unconditional love is stronger than atom bombs.
"Whatever lies ahead, I am content with having lived a long life with an interesting woman. The simpler parts of my life have been marked by unexpected moments of revelation and joy perhaps stunning glimpses of greater things beyond the veil. Viewed in the light of eternal promises, life is beautiful."
Norris, the son of Henry and Alice Norris, married Rosemary Archer in 1949. She and an infant daughter, Mary Beth, preceded him in death. He is survived by four of the couple's children, Danny, Beth, Mary Lane and John; seven grandchildren; four great-grandchildren; his siblings Terry, Katherine, Sam, Tommy and Tony; and numerous nieces and nephews.
A memorial gathering will be held 2 to 5 p.m., October 26, at the Doss Heritage and Cultural Center in Weatherford, where Norris' paintings are currently on exhibit. The public is warmly invited to attend.
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