Cover photo for Norris Charles Brown's Obituary
Norris Charles Brown Profile Photo
1934 Norris 2022

Norris Charles Brown

May 17, 1934 — April 9, 2022

On April 9, 2022, Norris Charles Brown completed his magnificent four score and seven-year whirl around this mortal ignition coil and rejoined his beloved wife Shirley on the other side of the veil.  In a long life of quiet and noble service, Norris blessed the lives of countless people who honor his name and will revere his legacy forever.

Norris was born on May 17, 1934 in Logan, Utah to his goodly parents, Theron and Blanche Brown. He spent his early years in Trenton, Utah where he lived with his family, surrounded by many loving relatives.  When he was twelve years old, his family moved to Palisades, Idaho where his father took a job on the construction of the Palisades Dam.  It was at the two-room Irwin School that he met classmate Shirley Lee Wray, who would one day become his eternal companion.  With his fun-loving siblings, Norris enjoyed many adventures in Swan Valley, one of which involved building a cannon to shoot oil cans, setting the cannon’s sights on spectral snipers secluded in the shallows on the far shore of the Snake River.  His assignment on this intrepid artillery squad was to sit in the back of a Model T on an inner tube filled with acetylene and to open the valve to fill the breach of the cannon once the oil can was loaded into the barrel.  It was great fun until he opened the valve at the same moment his brother lit the spark in the breach.  The ensuing explosion sent Norris flying sky-high, landing in some nearby bushes.  His brothers thought for sure they had killed him and wondered what they were going to tell their mother.  Fortunately, he survived, albeit without any eyebrows left.  In time, his eyebrows regrew, and his hearing (eventually) returned.  Through the remainder of his life though, he was very jumpy around loud, unexpected noises; this trait later served to drum him out of potential service in the Korean War and grounded his dream of becoming a jet fighter pilot.

While still a youth, his father built a gas station and car repair shop.  It was in that shop that Norris developed his peerless skills in fixing anything that was broken.  These skills would lead to a long, fulfilling career and would provide an untold number of opportunities to serve others by fixing anything from bulldozers to air compressors to cars to home appliances.

Since there was no high school in Swan Valley, Norris boarded with relatives who lived near high schools, including his great uncle in Driggs.  As part of his board, he was responsible for milking the cows twice each day.  This time frame encompassed the infamous winter of 1948-49, one of the worst winters on record in Idaho.  The Teton valley was cut off from the outside world for three weeks. Norris fondly (not!) reminisced about milking in an unheated barn at -40°. One day during that winter, he hitched a team to a sleigh full of manure to haul the loathsome load away from the barn.  The sleigh runners cracked through the crusty snow. As the team strove to free the sleigh, the hitch broke and the sleigh full of frozen manure remained locked in place until spring.

Norris and Shirley graduated from Ririe High School in 1953.  Norris then attended Utah State University while Shirley attended Brigham Young University.  After many love-inspired drives to Provo to visit Shirley, Norris proposed and the two were married on July 28, 1954 in the Idaho Falls Temple of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints.

In their first eight years of marriage, Norris and Shirley moved frequently to different towns in northern Utah and southeastern Idaho where Norris worked at numerous jobs in which he honed his fine mechanical skills.  During this time, the couple welcomed three children into their family, Gloria, Kelly, and Kirk.  In 1962, the family moved to Midvale, Utah where Norris worked for AMCO Equipment for 10 years.  In this job, Norris traveled to many remote spots to repair heavy equipment.  During these years in Midvale, Kory and Kendall joined the family.  Norris served on the Midvale Volunteer Fire Department where he had many adventures fighting fires, driving the ambulance and rescuing people.  Also during this time, Norris indulged in his lifelong love of fast cars, especially Pontiacs. He bought a 1965 Pontiac 2+2 which won the Car and Driver 0-60 mph contest that year, beating out a Ferrari.  Later he bought a cherry red Firebird that he drove 150 mph on the Nevada highways back in the days when there was no speed limit.  Eventually though, he sold the Firebird in order to buy a large camper so he could take his family on vacations and see new places.  In that camper, the family traveled all over the west from San Diego to Seattle, engendering many fun memories.

In 1972, Norris changed careers and accepted a position to teach at the Vocational-Technical School at Idaho State University.  He taught auto mechanics and diesel mechanics for a few years but then decided to start a new program he called Diesel Electric.  In this specialized course, he taught students how to troubleshoot and repair diesel-powered electric motors, generators, and control systems.  To get the program up and running, he solicited and received many donations of generator sets, transfer switches, etc.  His reputation grew in the power generation industry and companies lined up to hire graduates from his program.  His word for electricity was ‘whirlies’.  If you ever saw a red Chrysler driving around town, you could tell it was Norris’ car by seeing the word WHIRLIES on his personalized license plate.  Norris profoundly affected the lives of his many students over the decades.  Graduates of his program worked literally all over the world, including Antarctica.  Even until the very last days of his life, former students came to visit Norris to express their love and appreciation.

At home, Norris and Shirley raised their children in The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, where Norris fulfilled a variety of callings, including many years overseeing the Indexing work that extracted names from public records to make available for genealogical research.

Norris and Shirley were foster parents for more than 20 years.  Most often, they took in infants and toddlers.  It was not uncommon for their children to wake up in the morning to find that the police had dropped off a child during the night to be cared for.  Well over 100 children were blessed by the loving care of Norris and Shirley during treacherous moments of their young lives.

Norris retired from Idaho State University in 1997.  He and Shirley enjoyed their time together doing some traveling to visit kids, taking care of their home, and serving other people.  In Shirley’s later years, her mind became clouded with the tenacious tentacles of dementia.  Norris faithfully took care of Shirley through this challenging period.  Shirley passed away on March 25, 2020.  Though it was a blessing for her to be released from this life, Norris missed her terribly and often wondered when he would be able to be reunited with her again.

As Norris’ health began to falter, his daughter Gloria and her husband Dave unquestioningly welcomed him into their home and gave him the loving care that he needed.  Eventually he moved to the Grace Assisted Living center in Chubbuck where he lived until his death.

In the last 15 months of his life, he was expertly, gracefully, and lovingly cared for by the hospice workers from Encompass Health.  He especially appreciated and loved Marcia and Shawtay who took wonderful care of him.  The family is sincerely grateful for their Christlike service.

Norris was preceded in death by his bride Shirley; parents, Theron and Blanche Brown; siblings Larry, Garth (Florence), and Alan (Mary Kaye); and great-grandson William.  He is survived by his children Gloria (Dave) Stoker, Kelly (Rose), Kirk (Ruth), Kory (Pam), and Kendall (Mindy); sister Judy (Doug) Cornell, brother Boyd (Jeanette), 18 grandchildren and many great-grandchildren.

Family will receive friends at a viewing held on Thursday, April 21, 2022 from 6-8 pm at Colonial Chapel, 2005 S. 4th Ave. Pocatello, ID.
Funeral services will be on Friday, April 22, 2022 at 11 am at The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 4775 Hawthorne Road (corner of Hawthorne and Chubbuck Rd) with a viewing for one hour prior to the services at the church.
Interment will take place at the Riverside-Thomas Cemetery.

Memories and condolences may be be shared with the family under the "Tribute Wall" tab above.


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Service Schedule

Past Services

Funeral Services

Friday, April 22, 2022

Starts at 11:00 am (Mountain time)

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints-Chubbuck & Hawthorne

4775 Hawthorne Road, Pocatello, ID 83202


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