of Mt. Lebanon was born in Canonsburg, PA, on March 22, 1939, and died on May 12, 2022, aged 83. At birth, his parents did not give him a middle name. He took ”James,” the name of one of his friends, as his Confirmation name, and from then on used it for his middle name. In 1965 he married the love of his life, Eileen Bates of Whitehall. In June 2015, they celebrated 50 years of marriage. The anniversary was commemorated with a Mass at St. Bernard’s, their parish church.
Rich is predeceased by his parents, Leon and Alice Norwood; his brother, Lee Norwood; his nephew, Lee Norwood III; and several aunts, uncles, and cousins. Rich is survived by his wife, Eileen; their two children, Richard K. Norwood of Chicago, IL, and Jennifer Norwood (Wade Newman), of Bellefonte, PA; three grandchildren: Bryce, Gracie, and MacKenzie Turk, a step grandson; Jordan Newman; several nieces, a nephew and their families; and many cousins. Rich graduated from Third Ward Grade School in Canonsburg. In later years, he remembered fondly each of his teachers at that school, especially his fifth-grade teacher, Kathleen Crumm, who interestingly gave him his only “red” mark. Rich also thought it was great that his grandfather, Frank Norwood, was the school custodian, although sometimes this caused bad news to get home before he did! Nearing high school, he decided to study for the Catholic priesthood and entered St. Meinrad Seminary & School of Theology (Rockford, Indiana), where he completed high school and two years of college. A high point during his time at St. Meinrad was when he was chosen to sing the role of Balthazar in the school’s production of Amahl and the Night Visitors in 1959. For his third college year, he attended St. Vincent Seminary in Latrobe, PA, after which he decided to end his studies for the priesthood. Later in life, he often thought deeply about that decision as five people were given life for all eternity because of it.
He received a bachelor’s in psychology from Duquesne University, then earned his master’s in social work from the University of Pittsburgh. During his 35-year career, Rich worked in several Pittsburgh-area community mental health and child welfare agencies, first in direct service and then in administration. His longest agency stay (14 years) was with Mon Yough MH/MR Services of McKeesport. His last, full-time professional position was as a Behavioral Health Contract Administrator with Gateway Health Plan in Pittsburgh.
Military service also called: in 1964 he joined the Pennsylvania Air National Guard and began his almost 30-year military career with the 171st Air Refueling Wing. After basic training and technical school, he served as a reciprocating engine mechanic on the c121 Constellation aircraft, the same type of plane used by President Truman for Air Force One. He was later commissioned and served as an Administrative and then Maintenance Officer before becoming Squadron Commander and then Deputy Wing Commander. In 1968, during the Vietnam War, the unit was called to active duty for seven months. He retired from the Guard in 1993 as a Colonel.
His love of camping and all things outdoors developed from his involvement with the YMCA Indian Guides and Indian Princesses. Rich especially loved camping at Camp Soles and Deer Valley, where his love of sailing was born. It quickly became a favorite pastime, and he enjoyed taking family and friends sailing at Moraine State Park, where in later years he volunteered as a Blue Bird monitor. He also volunteered as a tree planter at the Flight 93 Memorial.
In retirement, Rich worked part-time for 11 years as a van driver for the Embassy Suites Hotel and eight years as a crossing guard for the Mt. Lebanon School District. He also served the community as an election-day poll worker as well as a Judge of Elections for over 25 years. Social activities included singing in the South Hills Chorale and the Pittsburgh Oratorio Society, going on outings as a member of the Veterans Breakfast Club, and participating in several bridge and poker groups. Rich loved to attend live theater productions at the Pittsburgh Public and City Theater, musicals and operas at the Benedum Center, and any concert given by the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra at Heinz Hall.
Friends will be welcomed at Laughlin Cremation & Funeral Tributes, 222 Washington Road, Mt. Lebanon on Monday 2:00-4:00 and 6:00-8:00pm.
Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated in Saint Bernard Church (St. Michael the Archangel Parish) 311 Washington Road, Pittsburgh on Tuesday morning at 10 o'clock.
In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made to the Veteran’s Breakfast Club or the Parkinson’s Foundation of Western PA.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Richard James Norwood, please visit our floral store.