By: Jan Rosemergy
At the Vanderbilt Kennedy Center (VKC), our leadership and staff view ourselves as family. Sadly, we lost one of our family members, Norma H. Morris, who passed away on Sunday, Jan. 17, 2016.
Norma was hired in 1965, the founding year of the Kennedy Center. She was a talented, award-winning artist who produced outstanding graphics for Center researchers, initially by hand and later using graphics technology. She retired in 2001, after 36 years of service.
“Norma's artistic sense, good humor, and strong work ethic supported and inspired her co-workers in the Kennedy Center,” said H. Carl Haywood, Ph.D., professor of Psychology Emeritus and a director of the Center during 12 years of Norma’s tenure.
Dona Tapp, long-time Center administrator, now retired, worked with Norma for over three decades. “Norma brought to the workplace a great artistic talent, unending cheer and optimism, and an exuberance that inspired all who knew her,” she said.
“Norma was a wonderful friend and co-worker,” said Linda Dupré, former VKC manager of Grants Development. “Working together at the VKC for 35 years, I have many fond memories from our friendship. Investigators as well as core staff could always count on her to get the job done and by the deadline. She was an amazing artist, and I am fortunate enough to have a couple of her paintings. I will treasure our friendship.“
“I am still amazed that so many things now accomplished through technology--graphs, tables, charts-- for publications, grant applications, pamphlets, and more were things Norma did by hand,” said Sue King, VKC administrative assistant who also worked with Norma for three decades. “Her artistic talent was incredible! Also, a lot of the traditional Kennedy Center potluck recipes, such as Pretzel Salad and Asian Slaw, originated with Norma. She was an original and she will be missed.”
In October 2015, the VKC held a 50th anniversary Homecoming to celebrate the contributions of staff over five decades. It was a time of renewing friendships.
“When I saw Norma at the Homecoming, we talked as if no time had passed since we had seen each other -- when in fact at least 25 years had passed,” said R. Wilburn Clouse, Ph.D., professor emeritus of at Vanderbilt, professor at Middle Tennessee State University, and president of the Clouse-Elrod Foundation, Inc. “Norma was that kind of friend--friend forever.”
Clouse was the Center’s first assistant director for Administration and also director of the Kennedy Center research computer center, as well as professor of education and library and information science.
“Without Norma’s help and support in my early career, I may have never been where I am today, which. I told her at the Homecoming,” Clouse said. “Norma played a big role in helping me develop grants and contracts and in developing the first management information system for the center, which was a model in the early years for the national network of Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers supported NICHD.
Ann Kaiser, Ph.D., Susan Gray Chair in Education and Human Development, professor of Special Education and Psychology, and a Center researcher said, “I remember Norma with fondness. She created many fine graphs for my research, and her kindness and her graciousness in dealing with my endless revisions were always appreciated. She was a lovely quiet presence in the Kennedy Center.”
“For staff birthday celebrations, Norma always did art on the envelopes that mirrored the cards,” remembered Jan Rosemergy, Ph.D., VKC deputy director of Communications. “I think we all saved the envelopes longer than we saved the cards. It was such a wonderful gift of friendship.”
Norma was an active member of many tennis leagues. She was a 50-year member of First Baptist Church of Hendersonville and an honorary member of the Women’s Club of Hendersonville.
Norma is survived by her husband, Ray Morris, of 53 years, children; Leslie Hudson (Robert) and Tisha Morris, grandchildren; Joshua and Erica Hudson, siblings Joyce Frye (Gilbert) and Dennis Raines (Pat).
--Jan Rosemergy, Ph.D., VKC Deputy Director and Director of Communications
Last Updated: 1/21/2016 8:45:14 AM
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