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Mary Ann Ramsey Norris, of St. Julien Plantation, Eutawville, SC, entered the presence of her Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on Sunday, November 27, 2022. Born August 20, 1929, she was the firstborn of her parents, the late Mary Alford Ramsey and Ralph Heyward Ramsey, Jr., of Brevard, NC, where she called home until her marriage to the late Frederick Keating Norris, Jr.
While attending Brevard High School, she applied her natural enthusiasm and positive attitude as a cheerleader for the school’s football team. In her later years, she could occasionally be persuaded to perform a cheer from her high school days. Outgoing, inclusive, and always with a ready smile, she was chosen by the student body to receive the school’s Good Citizen Award at her graduation in 1947. She took its ideals to heart and exercised them extensively during her lifetime of service to her family, church, and community.
A graduate of Converse College in Spartanburg, SC, Mrs. Norris majored in English and minored in Music. As a student, she was involved in a variety of campus activities outside of her classes, such as Baptist Student Union (BSU) and Glee Club. Her beauty and vivaciousness caught the eye of Fred Norris, Jr., when the Converse Glee Club was invited to sing at the then all-male Clemson College. Norris, a senior, was a student leader tasked with giving the group a campus tour. After their paths crossed again at a BSU event, their friendship deepened. Upon her graduation from Converse in 1951, the couple married and moved to Eutawville, where Norris was engaged in farming. There, they built their home with Christ as its foundation and nurtured both their marriage and their five children. During the more than six decades of their marriage, their children never heard them argue.
Mrs. Norris took seriously God’s call on her life to be a Christian wife and homemaker, and after her relationship with Jesus Christ, her family was her top priority. Spending time with them brought her great joy.
The embodiment of graciousness, Mrs. Norris applied the same positivity and optimism of her cheerleading days to faithfully support her husband in his numerous activities and to encourage their children in their goals and interests, even while pursuing her own. She was meticulous in making lists of things to do each day and in organizing her household. She and Norris were teammates for life, sharing the same values, love for God and each other, and a desire to help and serve.
At the center of Mrs. Norris’s activities was her faith, which she expressed in a number of ways, often through serving in various ministries of Corinth Baptist Church, where she was a member. Her love for children prompted her to teach Sunday school and Vacation Bible School for many years as well as lead the GA’s (Girls’ Auxiliary/Girls in Action) and Acteens. She was a longtime member of the choir and Adult Ladies’ Sunday School Class, and served on pastor search and benevolence committees. She put others first— whether family or friend—offering to help however she could, and visiting those who were shut-in, often taking with her a loaf of her trademark sourdough bread.
Mrs. Norris’s enjoyment of gardening, music, and reading was reflected in the community groups of which she was a part. She was a long-time member of the Ivy Garden Club, a past president of the Holly Hill Music Club, and a member of the Pierian Book Club. She was a past president of the Ladies Auxiliary of the South Carolina Association of Conservation Districts. Membership in the Daughters of the American Revolution (Prince of Orange Chapter) and Colonial Dames of the XVII Century (Mary Sterling Heatly Russell and Teige Cantey chapters) allowed her to pursue her interests in family history and love for country.
As their children became adults, Mrs. Norris and her husband had the opportunity to travel to countries they’d read about, returning home enriched by the places they’d seen, history they’d learned, and people they’d met—all diligently recorded in her travel notes alongside photos taken by Norris. Their travels added to the wide circle of friends they made throughout their 61 years of marriage.
Mrs. Norris’s life demonstrated the advice she once shared that if you want to get your focus off yourself, do something good for someone else. She lived by the motto, “Joy is Jesus first, Others second, Yourself last.” Yet beyond all she did, the person she was mattered more. To her parents, she was a devoted daughter. To her husband, she was a wholly supportive wife. To her children, she was a loving, involved mother. To her friends, she was loyal and helpful. To everyone, she was grace-filled and gracious, encouraging, and uplifting. And to her Savior, she was faithful.
Mrs. Norris was predeceased by her brother, Dr. Ralph Heyward Ramsey III, of Leander, TX. She is survived by a brother, Gayle Edward Ramsey, of Brevard, NC, and a sister, Sarah Ramsey McCarty, of Greensboro, NC; five children: Carolyn Ann Norris (Roger Velasquez) of Durham, NC; Mary Elizabeth Norris Mitchell (Dale) of Clemson, SC; Frederick Keating Norris III (Tracy) of Sullivans Island, SC; Robert Ramsey Norris (Carlotta) of Eutawville, SC; and Martha Norris McNeill (Dave) of St. Cloud, FL; nine grandchildren: Alexander Norris Velasquez, Justin Norris Mitchell, Leslie Mitchell Gearles, Jonathan Paul Mitchell, F. Keating Norris IV, Julia Ann Norris, Robert Ramsey Rhode Norris, Andrew David McNeill, and Daniel Armstrong McNeill; and six great-grandchildren: Connor and Caroline Mitchell, Brooke and Abby Gearles, Patrick Mitchell, and Steely Rose Norris.
The family wishes to thank Wellmore of Daniel Island for their dedication to and care for Mrs. Norris over the past four years, and the nurses and staff of Crescent Hospice who attended to her with compassion and kindness.
A celebration of Mrs. Norris’s life will be held Saturday, December 3, at 2 p.m. at Corinth Baptist Church on Highway 310 between Holly Hill and Vance, SC. Burial will follow in the church cemetery. Afterward, the family will receive friends in the church fellowship hall.
Pallbearers will be Mrs. Norris’s grandsons.
Memorials may be made to Corinth Baptist Church, P.O. Box 69, Vance, SC, 29163.
Expressions of sympathy may be viewed or submitted online at avingerfh.com/.
Funeral arrangements have been entrusted to Avinger Funeral Home, 2274 Eutaw Rd, Holly Hill, SC 29059, (803) 496-3434