David Norris (1952-1954)

Dave passed away Febr. 25, 2015 in Ventura, CA . We lost a wonderful family man and an irreplaceable leader, both as physicist in his years of service with NASA and in his team efforts with Bob Ellis, and their wives, in bringing about the success of Spangler Reunions over the past fourteen years.

Millie Ellis, Elana Norris, Dave Norris & Bob Ellis

Dave first joined up with a Spangler Group during a get together on the USS Slater in Albany in 2000. The following year when the group met again, this time in Indianapolis, Bob Ellis asked for help on arranging future reunions - Dave didn't hesitate to raise his hand. From then on he played a major role, if not the key role, especially in more recent years, in setting up and arranging reuions. The only one he was unable to attend was the one in Grand Junction in 2013. The 2015 reunion in San Diego was to be his last one. Bob Ellis was to be there and together they were going to make it their "last hurrah!" He made the arrangements for the reunion location and lined up attendees, but, sadly, none of it was to come about.

Jim Howard, on learning of Dave's passing, wrote in the Spangler Guestbook that "Dave did an outstanding job in developing our (Spangler) group and by locating a lot of us. It had to be a labor of love, he will be greatly missed." Dave, through his research and through the help of others managed to locate nearly 400 servicemen that had served aboard the Spangler over the years. : Unfortunately some had already passed away.

About seventy-five Spangler servicemen, in all, have attended the reunions at one time or another. And Dave enjoyed kidding around and had fun with with all of them. But the folks he enjoyed most were his old shipmate buddies: Bob Ellis, AJ Goers and Bob Hunter - the guys he served aboard ship with in the sonar gang.

He loved talking about the role he played in "almost" sinking the ship. If you haven't read his sea tale: "The Day The Spangler Disappeared," stop back here after you've finished reading the rest of the Remembrance page and enjoy it. It's a facinating story!

During the memorial service eulogy for Dave at the First Lutheran Church in Ventura, CA, on March 14, his oldest son, David, had the following to say in memory of his father and in doing so wanted it to be a celebration of his father's life:

"David D. Norris was born in Monterey Park in 1933 to David Morgan Norris and Vera Davis Norris. His father was a library furniture salesman and his mother was a homemaker and landscape and still life painter. Dave grew up in Alhambra. He and his brother Irvin attended Alhambra High School. After graduating from High School Dad briefly attended Pasadena City College and then joined the Navy in 1951. He became a Sonarman First Class on the Destroyer Escort Spangler. Dave and Elana were married in 1953. In 1954 he applied for an early discharge because he was tired of getting backaches from sleeping on what they called a six foot rack (or bed) when he was 6-foot 7-inches tall. Also in 1954 I was born. After leaving the service he returned to PCC and majored in physics. At this time Mark was born. Dad transferred to Cal State LA where he earned his Bachelors and then his Master’s degree in Physics, and also did some teaching in that field. "

" By now Luke Matthew had been born, and Dad was working at Jet Propulsion Lab in Pasadena. Even though he had many responsibilities at work, he found time to teach us how to throw and catch and always attended all of our sporting and concert events, whether they be baseball, basketball, or orchestra. He was also involved as a leader in Indian Guides with the boys where his Indian name was Big Foot, I was Little Toe, Mark was Fleetfoot and Matt was Running Foot. He made a significant investment of time in our Boy Scout troop where he was Scoutmaster for about two years. He once made me ride my 10-speed bicycle from our house in San Gabriel to the Eaton Canyon Nature Center, in order to get a Merit Badge card signed that I had forgotten to bring to the class. This was a distance of about 5 miles and more than just a slight uphill grade, all the way. This taught me to be better prepared as a Scout. He was a good mentor and leader to all his sons and other young men in Scouting. "

"In 1970 Rachel was born. Now we had a little sister! Dad was very happy to have a girl in the family. Now he could watch all the volleyball and basketball games that he wanted to. Little did anyone know she would go on to become a Medical Doctor."

"Dad was a true rocket scientist. There are probably some of his projects that are still flying in space somewhere or transmitting information from a planet’s or moon’s surface. I won’t go into many details of his aerospace achievements. I do remember him developing a magnetometer that was going to go fly on a mission in space. It is an instrument used to measure the magnetic field at a point in space. He brought one home once for us to look at and touch. Despite acquiring this specialized knowledge of space exploration at an early age, I decided to go into accounting and finance as a career."

"Dad’s faith was an integral part of his life. He grew up in the Methodist church, then when he got married, he became a Lutheran which he remained for 61- years. He also was able to integrate his beliefs with his practical knowledge of science. He once gave a lecture that I attended at a Christian school in the South Bay area. He was able to explain scientific concepts and relate them to Scripture, as opposed to arguing the differences between the two. This took a lot of courage and foresight. A little further on in time, he supported his grandchildren and their wives who made short term mission trips to places such as China, Mexico, Europe and the Dominican Republic to help local families with various construction projects or to help students learn the English language. He served as a Deacon and was active in Trinity Lutheran Church in San Gabriel, and here at First Lutheran. His faith sustained him in life, especially towards the end. "

"Dad had a sense of humor too. He used to joke about his shoe size and would say it was H2. If you asked him what the H stood for, he simply said “H stands for huge”. "

"He valued education and supported both his children and grandchildren in obtaining their degrees. All four of us got our Bachelors Degrees and some went on beyond that. "

"He had a sensitive side to him as well. I remember when I crashed the family car when I was 16 coming home at night in the rain on the freeway, I had to call him at 2:30 in the morning from the tow yard and he had to come get me because the car was not drivable. He didn’t say much, and just wanted to know if I was OK. I’m sure I could have received a lecture on the value of automobiles and the high cost of insurance, but there was none of that. "

"In his later years he had a small consulting company that was involved in salt water treatment projects. He also organized over a decade of annual reunions of his Navy buddies from the Spangler at places all around the country. Mark and Matthew were very involved in assisting with these events. "

"He retired from JPL and continued to work in the aerospace field on consulting projects. He participated in Plenary review sessions with his colleagues, and even did some work for the European Space Agency. His passion for science and physics kept him going and kept his mind active. He continued to work up until about 6 weeks before he died. "

"Dave is survived by his wife Elana; four children David, Mark, Matthew and Rachel, daughter-in-law Barbara and son-in-law Richard; 3 grandsons Chris, Mike and Steve and their wives, and 5 great granddaughters with a sixth great grandchild on the way. "

"In closing my portion, I would like to read just the very beginning of the Book of Ecclesiastes, Chapter 3, that was also made popular as a song back in the 60’s: "

"There is an appointed time for everything.

And there is a time for every purpose under heaven.

A time to give birth and a time to die. "

"Rest in peace, Dad. "