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Norris Spends 31 Years With BellSouth

By Charles Cooper

Hello everyone, hope you’re having a good week.
 This week’s column begins “Reflections” fourteenth year and again I want to thank all of you whose support has made it a success for all those years. What began as an idea for my children and grandchildren – a few columns about our heritage – evolved into what it is today because of  a hand written letter from  the late Kathy Ward.  
We became good friends and she wrote me from time to time and on more than one occasion she invited me to come by for some of her pecan pie—she was a great cook and I had told  her that  pecan pie was my favorite.
When I started asking for input from you readers, emails and letters started coming in from Washington, Oregon, California, Nevada, Ohio,  Oklahoma, Illinois, Missouri, Tennessee, Ala-bama, Georgia, Florida, North and South Carolina, and Virginia to name the ones I can remember. Until then I had no idea how widespread the Herald readers were and I made contact  with old friends and made many new ones. In a meeting with David and Jack in December we decided that since Jack Gurner, Sr. had so much railroad history, he would do a column in that vein on an alternating week with “Reflections” and I would concentrate on personal interviews.  
The first for 2014 happens to be a personal friend of mine, former Mayor William G. “Bill” Norris. This interview was done informally as we sat at a table in Turnage Drug Store. Bill said he was born in Blair, which is near Guntown in east Missis-sippi.  
After attending several schools, he finished  high school at Yocona High.  He then entered the Ole Miss school of Pharmacy, but changed his major after a couple of years.  During summer vacation he got a job with what was then Bell Telephone and after graduation decided to work until he decided on his career course. He started as every new employee did in those days–climbing poles.
He got married to Mary McCullar of Oakland and started a family. His three girls are all now teachers.  
By this time he had decided that this was where he wanted to stay. He rose through several levels during a 31-year career and retired at a relatively young age.  Like many active individuals who retire, he found too much time on his hands, so he ran for alderman in Water Valley and was elected.  
After several years in that job he decided to run for Mayor.  Everyone told him that he had very little chance to win the race. But to everyone’s surprise, except his, he won.  
I met him about this time on one of my trips to the Valley. We would drink coffee and that led to us becoming friends.  Once when several of us were sitting around drinking coffee, I kidded him by saying, “the other day I called Bill and he answered the phone by saying, my honor speaking.” Bill just grinned and never said a word.  
By all accounts he made a good mayor but was defeated for re-election by the former mayor and he retired from politics.
Bill started his own company trouble shooting communication problems and is still active.  Bill, I realize the constraints of space can’t do you justice in one column, but since you promised me that you have a lot of other stories I’ll look forward to hearing them at a future date.  
My email address is still or write me at P.O. Box 613189 Memphis, TN 38101 and have a great week.

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