Richard Donnell Norris

September 18, 1948 ~ October 10, 2023 (age 75) 75 Years Old

Richard Norris Obituary

Bath - Richard Donnell Norris of Bath, Maine, passed away peacefully in his sleep on October 10, 2023 at Maine Medical Center, at age 75. The cause of death was heart failure.

Born in Annapolis, Maryland on September 18, 1948, he grew up in a Navy family and lived in numerous port cities during his earlier years. His father, Captain Charles R. Norris Jr., USN, met his mother Barbara Donnell Norris at the commissioning of the destroyer USS Niblack, at the Bath Iron Works in 1941. As his Navy family relocated frequently, Richard lived in such port cities as San Francisco, Manilla, San Diego, Newport, Bath, Alexandria, and Norfolk before entering college. During these many moves, he enjoyed returning to Popham Beach, Maine, an annual summer ritual which remained throughout his life.

While living in Coronado, California as a teenager in the early 1960’s, Richard became a long-board surfer and fan of early rock and roll, along side his close friend Andy Morrison, brother of musician Jim of the Doors. Defying navigation protocols at the entrance channel to San Diego harbor, Richard and Andy paddled from Coronado to Point Loma in search of the “big ones”. While he never took up east coast surfing, finding the waves too small and the breaks in the wrong direction,  he did, however, continue his love of R&B and could be heard with eight-track blaring Motown and James Brown from his VW camper on coast-to- coast road trips.

After receiving a degree in Hotel Management from the University of Denver in 1971, Richard was engaged in the hospitality industry, with positions ranging from Sebasco Lodge to the Ritz Carleton in Boston. In his spare time, global explorations included trips to England, France, Spain, Ibiza, Morocco, and “Lappy Lapland” in Finland, where he claimed to have bonded with the reindeer.  He also traveled extensively in South America, highlighted by a hiking pilgrimage to Machu Picchu in Peru.  After his return, he lived in Sarasota, Cambridge, and Portland before settling in Bath in the 1990s, following other family members to their Maine home town. He lived briefly in a house opposite BIW that was built on the site of his great grandfather’s J.T. Donnell Ropewalk, active from the 1850’s to 1900.  Settling in the South End, Richard provided assistance to his mother Barbara Donnell Norris in her later years.

The magic of the Maine Coast always led Richard back to nearby Popham Beach with fond memories of childhood adventures. He enjoyed walks along shore year-round, as well as summertime reunions with family an friends. 

Richard lived his life as a true individualist, on his own terms and in his own time.  He will be fondly remembered for his engaging personality and wicked sense of humor, always ready with a jest accompanied by his wry, ambiguous smile. 

He is survived by his brothers, Stephen and Charles (Diane Charyk Norris), and nieces Katherine Norris and Hanna Norris.  

A celebration of his life is planned for the summer of 2024.  In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Maine Medical Center Cardiovascular Fund for Innovation, in recognition of the excellent care he received.

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