Vern L. Norris

Lansing, MI


Vern L. Norris was born on September 16, 1928, to Verne Norris Sr. and Dorothy Santman. He died February 12, 2018, peacefully with his loved ones at his side. He was preceded in death by his wife of 45 years, Betty Mae Norris (Bolles); sister, Marian Feenstra; and daughter, Deborah Norris. Surviving are his daughters, Sue Janetzke (Randy) of Dimondale and Sally Beckner (Mark) of Colorado; sister, Sharon Flynn (Jeff) of Ann Arbor; brother-in-law, Lee Bolles (Donna) of Tucson, AZ; grandchildren, Kyle Janetzke (Jenny), Colin Janetzke (Kyleen), Kacie Walenczak (Chris), Kimberlee Hipsher (Jamie), Chad Beckner (Monica), and Calvin Reed; eight great-grandchildren; and nieces, nephews, cousins, and friends. Special friend, Joan Dunn was by his side until the end.

Vern was baptized and became an active member in the Lutheran Church as a young married man and father, and held many jobs within the church from usher, chairman of various volunteer groups, to snow plowing the church parking lot. He loved helping others and often visited church shut-ins regularly to lend an encouraging hand.

A graduate of Godwin Heights High School in Grand Rapids, Michigan, he went on to earn degrees from Western Michigan University (BS Degree), University of Michigan (MA Degree), and post Masters Degree work at both Western Michigan University and Michigan State University. Jobs were many from camp counselor, to teacher and coach in Traverse City, Rockford, and Hillsdale Public Schools. He was an official of basketball and football, to Director of Placement at WMU, to Assistant, then Director of the MHSAA, and on to Commissioner of the GLEAC Conference in his retirement. Vern was active working with people of all ages, especially in the area of athletics. He had even copyrighted a Football Officials Training Unit which sold nationally. He was a recipient of many awards in this area including the National Alliance Football Rules Committee Award and the Michigan Sports Sages Man of the Year. The MHSAA gives out a yearly award to veteran officials in Vern’s name. Vern was a member of many national sports committees and served as the President of the National Federation of State High School Associations. He enjoyed attending sporting events of all kinds even into his retirement. He was well known as a leader at church, home, and work. His family remembers him as selfless for others, a strong supporter of each child and grandchild’s endeavor, a faithful husband, friend, neighbor, and a strong leader in his community. The most important things to him were his Lord, family, and friends.

The Service of Coronation will be held at 11:00 a.m. on Friday, February 16, 2018, at Trinity Lutheran Church, 501 W. Saginaw St., Lansing. His family will receive friends from 2-4 and 6-8 p.m. on Thursday at the Estes-Leadley Greater Lansing Chapel, and beginning at 10:00 a.m. on Friday at the church.

In lieu of flowers the family encourages you to give to one of the suggested groups below in Vern’s name, or to another cause dear to your heart.

American Cancer Society

Camp O’Malley (Alto, MI)

Trinity Memorial Fund (through Trinity Lutheran Church)

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2 Messages to “Vern L. Norris

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John Greenslit
February 13, 2018 at 7:44 pm

Norris Family,
My career in youth sports was blessed with Vern’s personal and professional contacts. His was a mentor, as well as friend. If there was ever a role model for civility, sincerity, tolerance, respect and integrity, it would be Vern. He led with humility and grace. Michigan athletes, coaches, players, officials, parents and fans were fortunate to have his example of leadership.. thank you for sharing him with us.
John Greenslit, Michigan Recreation and Park Association, Executive Director, 1972-1994.

Kim Morley Salow
February 18, 2018 at 7:57 pm

Sally and Sue,
Thinking of you on your dads passing and sorry to see that Debbie passed too. I have never forgotten how nice your parents both were. Who else would let us play cards on the porch and listen to loud sixties music for hours? And make us frosty root beer floats and peanut butter and pickle sandwiches. They always had such kind words. I am glad I had the opportunity to know Vern and Betty and that you all had so many great years together.


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