Obituary of Grady Jerome Norris
GRADY J. NORRIS (“JERRY”)
July 3, 1937 – June 14, 2023
Grady Jerome Norris died early on the morning of Wednesday, June 14 at his new home in Arlington, VA, after a brief illness. In earlier years he also had resided in Alexandria and Annandale, VA. He was 85.
Jerry Norris was born in Birmingham, AL, on July 3, 1937, the son of Sally Christine Johnson Norris. From early in Jerry’s life, stepfather Earl Toner was his true dad in every way. Sally and Earl gave birth to Jerry’s sister Sally Jane (widow of Ronnie Harless) in 1946.
Mr. Norris was preceded in death by his beloved wife of 61 years, Mary Anne. Surviving him are his daughter, Christine Norris Bamberger and Chris’ husband, Rob Bamberger, of Arlington, VA; and a son, Timothy Jerome Norris of Warrenton, VA, and his partner Rachel Reed.
Jerry also is survived by his dear sister Jane Harless of Bessemer, AL; his brothers-in-law Jesse Truman Price (Jeanne), and Stephen Taylor Price (Patty), and his sister-in-law Sue Weaver Price, widow of John Daniel Price.
He also leaves behind many loving nieces, nephews, cousins, and long-time friends.
Jerry graduated from Birmingham Southern College in 1962 after concurrently working as a news reporter for the Birmingham Post-Herald. A stint in the U.S. Army made him a late graduate, but he promptly pursued a law degree at the University of Chicago the following autumn.
From 1965 to 1969 he was a trial attorney with the Civil Rights Division of the U.S. Department of Justice. He was part of a cadre of young lawyers who went to Federal courts throughout the south to enforce the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and to combat illegal restrictions on voting based on race. Along with his co-workers, he oversaw the voter registration of previously restricted people of color in Selma, AL, after the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.
Jerry’s crowning achievement was the co-authorship of the Fair Housing law under the Civil Rights Act of 1968, for which colleagues named him “the father of the Fair Housing Law.”
His Justice Department cohort remember him as a talented writer, who had strong values about how people should treat each other, and who worked hard to translate those values into action.
Jerry resided in Decatur, GA, as he began a managerial role at the Department of Housing and Urban Development in Atlanta, and he and Anne had several close friends there. After his retirement in 1993, Jerry and Anne enjoyed life at their picturesque home and gardens “on Norris Pond” in New Bern, NC.
Jerry was devoted to his family and enjoyed writing and photography. A baseball fan all his life, he never wavered in his support of the Baltimore Orioles—he had followed them from the time they were the St. Louis Browns.
Family and friends are invited to contribute to the ACLU or to the Brennan Center for Justice, or to the food distribution center So Others Might Eat of Washington, DC.
A service to honor both Jerry and Mary Anne will be held in Birmingham, AL, next spring.To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Grady Norris, please visit Tribute Store