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Happy 100th Birthday, Grandpa

21 Sep

navy picMy grandpa was a great man. I called him Grandpa Grandpa. As I grew older, I decided it was probably because one “Grand” wasn’t enough. He taught me many things – my appreciation for the Land of Oz, an interest in stamp collecting, how to make an omelet (with jam), the call of the chickadee, and how to count to twenty in Spanish. He had a massive movie collection, which I spent many hours admiring and organizing. We’d watch John Wayne and Cary Grant as well as the classic afterschool Disney lineup with our favorite, Ducktales. We’d also watch Where in the World in Carmen Sandiego, where I’m sure he greatly outdid me on geography knowledge. He always had Hawaiian punch (in the can), vanilla ice cream, chocolate pudding, and vanilla wafers on hand. There’s more, I’m certain. He is always sneaking up on me, reminding me of something that’s locked in my 37-year-old memory or of a little tidbit so ingrained that I forget for a moment that it’s him.

I had every intention of celebrating his 100 years by researching the pieces of his life that are missing from our lists and memories, and gosh, I still plan to, but today, I haven’t gotten very far. That isn’t going to stop me from telling you what I know, though, because while a perfect history is great, even a little is still grand…


Lawrence Ernest Norris was born on Sept. 21, 1919. His parents, Dr. Samuel Ernest Norris, a dentist, and Genevieve Armelia Paul Norris, had been married for about a year and were living with my great-great-great grandmother, Genevieve Paul, in her house on Platte Ave.

In 1922 they moved to the house I knew as “Grandpa’s,” in Ivywild. This is where he grew up, and where he raised his own family, buying the house from my great-grandfather in 1947. He attended Lowell and Ivywild elementary schools, both of which have been remodeled to contain businesses, restaurants, bars and entertainment venues. He attended Palmer High School in downtown Colorado Springs when it was still called Colorado Springs High School. It was the only High School back then. I know that he was involved with drama from some old yearbook photos. He went on to obtain degrees from Colorado College, receiving his Master’s in Geology in 1942.

graduation june 1937Grandpa registered for the draft in 1940 at the age of 21 while a student at Colorado College. In 1941 he joined the naval reserves, served during World War II and attained the rank of Lieutenant. He met my grandmother, Dora Maria Norris in Washington D.C. She was working as a secretary for the Department of Agriculture. They were married in July 1945. Somewhere, our family has their wedding gift list, and I promise to share this at a later time. He had two children, my mom and aunt.


He was ordered back to active duty in 1951 for the Korean conflict. Service awards include the American Defense and European-African-Middle Eastern medals with two combat stars.

Between World War II and the Korean conflict, he was employed at Alexander Film Company in theater relations. He returned after the Korean conflict to work for the film company as well. Later, he worked for Montgomery Wards, retiring in 1981. In his youth, Larry drove tours through The Garden of the Gods and up Pikes Peak. He was a past member of the American Legion and always enjoyed working at The Pikes Peak or Bust Rodeo. He also volunteered for Junior Achievement and the Pikes Peak Library District.

He passed away in 2009 after a long battle with Alzheimer’s.

retirementIn his life he did so much, and most of it is still to tell. Today, on his 100th birthday, though, I think, I can sum him up best with a quote often accredited to Maya Angelou:

“They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.”

Grandpa, had a way about him, which made you feel like the most important person in the world. A kindness that radiated. This is what I hold tightly too — what I will never ever forget.



Our Confederate Connection

22 Apr

Rumors of our Alabama ancestors and their involvement in The Civil War have circulated through my family for as long as I can remember. Alabama being a Southern state made it likely that, despite our better hopes, we did have some members of the confederacy in our family tree.

During previous research, I’d tracked down both Alanson B. Norris and Samuel Leslie Rose (parents of William R. Norris and Minnie Lee Rose (respectively), my great-great grandparents) to Montgomery, Alabama. I’d also found an obituary that listed Minnie Lee Rose as a Daughter of the Confederacy. I hadn’t, however, tracked down the confederate connection, nor did I know if it was on the Rose or Norris side…. or both. I’d searched military records for Samuel Leslie Rose in Alabama, and found nothing.

I decided, then, that perhaps it was his father who was the soldier. After a bit of difficulty, I happened upon the Rose family living in Carroll, Mississippi on the 1860 census. The Rose’s were listed by initials only. There was A.C. Rose, M.J. Rose, and S.L. Rose amongst several others in the household. I knew this was the correct family, because in the 1880 census I found a Margaret J. Rose living with Samuel Leslie Rose and his wife Sarah Elizabeth Rose. She was listed in this record as his mother. You can check out both of these census entries below. The first two screen captures are from the 1860 census, and the last one is from 1880.

Finding the Rose’s in Mississippi was a huge break. By 1870, Samuel Leslie Rose is listed on the Alabama census with his wife Sarah and one-year-old baby girl Minnie. Placing them in Mississippi in 1860 meant they were more likely to be there when the war broke out, than in Alabama. Oddly enough, Samuel is listed as being born in Alabama, so it makes you wonder why they moved to Mississippi, and then back. I spent a lot of time trying to find A.C. Rose in another census entry, with the hope of finding out what his first name was. The only information I had on him from 1860, besides the initials of his family members, was that he was 53-years-old and born in New York. He was listed as an M.D., but it’s unclear to me what that is an abbreviation for. Unfortunately, I couldn’t find either A.C. or Margaret Rose on any other census on or HeritageQuest. I’d hit a dead end with good ‘ole A.C., and I still didn’t know who the confederate solder could be.

In search of a lucky lead, I visited with the hope that either Samuel Leslie Rose or A.C. Rose would have a tombstone photo. I’ve noticed that some volunteers will take the extra step of listing related tombstones, and I was hoping that maybe an entry for Samuel Leslie Rose would lead to A.C. This, unfortunately, was not the case…

However, I did strike gold.

I could’ve sworn I’d searched for Samuel L. Rose’s tombstone before, but apparently not, because here in front of me there was suddenly a photo of a confederate tombstone, complete with his regiment. Sure enough, he served in Mississippi and not Alabama. I’m still not certain what the WATT part of the tombstone engraving means, but I did place him in the 30th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry and Swett’s Company, Mississippi Light Artillery. He entered as a private and exited as a Sergeant. I’m still working on locating his original records to see if I can find any more information. If you visit the National Parks Service site, however, you can find information about both Swett’s Company, Mississippi Light Artillery and the 30th Regiment, Mississippi Infantry and you can find Samuel L. Rose listed in both.

I later tracked down A.C. Rose’s name and a lot of information about his father (my great-great-great-great-great grandfather) on the East coast, but that’s a story for another day.

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