BY ALLEN A. BUCHANAN, Staff Writer
PETERSBURG – More than 40 friends and family shared an afternoon at Callaloo Restaurant with Barbara Norris to help her celebrate 75 years of a life well lived and appreciated on Saturday, Nov. 3.
“Her life is a tribute,” said good friend Paulette Goolsby. “She is a tribute to God. She has given her life in the service of God, and she loves everybody.”
Goolsby talked about Norris’ love of education and how terrible she is at retiring.
“She retired from teaching then came back; then retired again and came back again,” laughed Goolsby.
Another member of the Goolsby family, Kenneth Jr., paid tribute to Norris on the saxophone after sharing how she’s always been an encouragement to him.
“I’ve made some mistakes along the way, but Mrs. Norris has always been someone who has encouraged me to do better and to get on the right track in every aspect of my life,” said Goolsby Jr.
Born in Tallahassee on Nov. 9, 1943, to M. T. and Annie J. Brown, Norris is one of five children from this union.
Always an excellent student, when she graduated from high school, she moved to St. Pete to attend Gibbs Junior College in 1961. She then matriculated to the University of South Florida where she majored in early childhood development.
Barbara’s first job out of college proved to be very fulfilling. Instead of getting experience and moving on to bigger and better things, she worked at Happy Workers for 18 years as a preschool and kindergarten teacher. In 1990, she accepted her next assignment at Central Christian and taught there for 16 years, retiring in 2004.
She continues to mentor children and volunteers at hospitals and nursing homes. Norris is very active with the St. Petersburg Metropolitan Section National Council of Negro Women where she once held office as the communications secretary. She is also an ardent member of the Gibbs Junior College Alumni Association.
Norris’ daughter Bridgett and loved one after loved one expressed what a kindhearted and awesome woman of God she is.
“She turned me to the sunshine and encouraged me to dream,” said Bridgett, adding how her mother established “markers along the way to help her distinguish between right and wrong.”
Norris graciously thanked everyone for coming out to celebrate her life and for giving her her roses while she can still smell them.
To reach Allen Buchanan, email firstname.lastname@example.org