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Obituary for Kathleen Marie Norris (Kirkpatrick )

Kathy Marie Kirkpatrick Norris

One day as Jack Norris was working as a clerk for the FBI in early December 1967, he spoke to a certain female switchboard operator on the telephone for the first time. He fell in love with her voice immediately. Within the first hour of meeting her in person that same day, not only did he take a photograph of her, he also knew he would marry her.

And marry her, he did.

The following year, Kathleen Marie Kirkpatrick became Kathy Norris, and together with Jack, created a family whose motto was “the more people in the house, the better.” The more is better philosophy applied to the family beach house, the family car, the dinner table, beside the Christmas tree, on vacations: all were welcome.

Kathy died on August 5, 2014, after a long illness, at her home in Venice, Florida surrounded by her entire family, who gathered in the days preceding, drenching her in love and laughter.

Kathleen Marie Kirkpatrick Norris was born on Easter Sunday, March 28, 1948, at St. Mary’s Hospital in Passaic, New Jersey, to parents Harold and Marie Gargan Kirkpatrick. She attended St. Mary’s school, followed by her job with the FBI, where she met Jack. When she began raising her family, she found her true calling.

An Olympic-level organizer who could coordinate her six children with humor and ease, Kathy was a dynamic multi-tasker. Bubbly, uncomplicated and nurturing, Kathy made caring for young people the constant theme in her life. Whether it was leading Girl Scouts, teaching CCD classes, planning church activities, sewing clothes for her children, making snacks and playing board games, Kathy operated at a high energy level at all times. No matter what, her ever-present laughter was loud enough to be heard above any gang she’d gathered. Taking time for herself in the midst of her growing family, she joined a bowling league and enjoyed years of ceramics classes.

Her attention to detail made Kathy a supreme trip director. Her love of travel led to family trips around the world, including a three-week journey to New Zealand. But Kathy didn’t stop at just her family; she organized and planned trips for three or four families to accompany her own on several vacations.

Despite her accomplished level of finely tuned scheduling, Kathy was always willing to bend. If she had a multitude of things going on, and someone called and suggested a trip to Atlantic City, she'd say, "Hold on...let me get my purse." She loved to drive, and it was one more way she stayed in constant motion. She would pop in on a sister or friend who lived two hours away, just to make sure they stayed connected. She happily instilled the travel bug in all her children.

Children were the center of Kathy’s universe. Her home was available to any child who needed it, and scores of foster children found a caring home with Jack and Kathy. She connected with children in a delightful manner, creating her own language and sharing it with them. Slippers became fuzz-its, the kids were padoos, and everyone had a nickname. She joined her children in practical jokes and pranks, many times instigating them herself. If things got out of hand, she evoked fear in her children by shooting them her “mad eyes,” her furrowed brow letting them know they’d crossed the line.

To many, Kathy was a medical miracle. She overcame lupus after a long struggle, and withstood various health challenges over the years. She was at death’s door on several occasions, but her strong spirit prevailed and saw her through each crisis. Because of the things she’d taught them, her children were able to keep the family organized if she was unable to. As she became weaker over the years, watching her children and grandchildren play revived her and brought her great joy.

In spite of being Irish, Kathy held kindnesses in her heart longer than grudges. She never forgot a favor from a friend or family member. She was a loyal and giving spirit, and her generosity knew no limits.

Kathy’s great legacy is her six children and their families, who share her open heart and contagious humor, laced with profound love for one another.

She is survived by her husband of 46 years, John Francis Norris (Jack), and her six children: Mary Elizabeth Mills (Devin), Kerry George (Christopher), Sean Norris (Gia), Kathleen 'Katie' Patterson (Lee), Michael Norris (Amy), and Meghan Bradley (Thomas); her grandchildren, Kayla George, Colin George, Evan George, Madeline Mills, Owen Mills, Rhett Norris, Jack Bradley, and Colt Norris; and three siblings, Thomas Kirkpatrick (Dotty), Janet Zucaro, and James (Peggy) Kirkpatrick; and many nieces and nephews. Her parents, Marie Gargan Kirkpatrick and Harold J. Kirkpatrick, preceded Kathy in death.

Visitation for Kathy Norris will be Sunday, August 10, from 2-4 pm & 7-9 pm; and Monday, August 11, from 7-9 pm at Vander Plaat Funeral Home, 530 High Mountain Road, Franklin Lakes, New Jersey.

Funeral mass will be celebrated Tuesday, August 12, at 10 am, at Church of the Presentation, 271 W Saddle River Rd, Upper Saddle River, New Jersey, followed by burial at Ascension Cemetery, 650 Saddle River Rd, Airmont, New York.

In lieu of flowers, donations would be appreciated to one of Kathy’s favorite organizations, online at Renew International, www.renewintl.org or by mail to RENEW International, Attn: Development Department, 1232 George Street, Plainfield, NJ 07062.

To send flowers to the family of Kathleen Marie Norris (Kirkpatrick ), please visit our Heartfelt Sympathies Store.

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