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Baseball-related activities proved prominent throughout the life of Ed Norvell.
The same for Jim DeRatt, Hugh Flowers and Jim Hemby — area personalities who passed away in 2017 and are joined by Norvell in being remembered by the Wilson Hot Stove League by the dedication of the recent banquet program in their honor.
Norvell lettered in baseball, football and basketball at Norlina High. Upon returning from the military, he pursued his passion for baseball at Louisburg College, and then transferred to Atlantic Christian (now Barton) College.Following a brief venture into semi-professional baseball, Norvell officiated baseball and football and highlighting his later life was the opportunity to watch his grandsons, Brian and Brett Allen, play baseball and football.
DeRatt spent nearly 40 years in Wilson County Schools teaching and coaching at Stantonsburg High, Saratoga Central and finally Beddingfield. He coached championship teams in baseball, football and basketball.
Flowers became a legendary figure in the Lucama community as a teacher, coach and administrator for 36 years. He directed Lucama to its first North Carolina High School Athletic Association state championship in 1960 and was recognized as not only the Wilson County Coach of the Year, but the Wilson County Principal of the Year.
Hemby is most known for his lengthy tenure as president of Atlantic Christian — where he advocated a strong athletic program. However, wonderful stories of lore stemmed from his days as an umpire — especially when he and Al Rhem umpired the Fike High home games of head coach Gilbert Ferrell.
DeRatt, Flowers and Hemby were the subject of previous tributes in The Wilson Times.
Last July 21, Norvell died suddenly from a massive heart attack in Pink Hill while traveling from his home in Columbia to visit a relative in Wilmington. He was age 81.
“I never heard anybody say anything negative about him,” said Babe Allen, Norvell’s son-in-law who married his daughter, Cindy.
Allen disclosed that, upon the death of his father, Norvell, married to Frances Norvell for 34 years, became his welcomed father figure.
“We had a really close relationship,” Allen noted. “Fishing was No. 1 with him, but he loved his family and two grandchildren.
“He didn’t know a stranger. Anybody that needed anything or knew him, he would do anything for them.”
Only a couple of weeks before his death, Norvell informed Allen that he was the lone living member of his high school football officiating crew.
Norvell seldom missed a Norlina or Louisburg reunion.
Not unusual was Norvell, an avid outdoorsman, inviting someone, including a stranger, to join him for a fishing excursion. He could spin fish tales for hours and earned the reputation of an “expert” fisherman and the nickname of “Fishin Ed.”
Norvell joined the Wilson Police Department in 1961 and retired as a captain 30 years later.
“He met so many people because of the police department,” Allen assured. “He had a lot of close friends.”
Allen emphasizes Norvell considered himself blessed because he remained active until his final day and was never a burden because of failing health.
“He was very active,” Allen decared. “It was amazing to watch him go and do things. If his grandchildren were playing a ball game, he was there. This past Thanksgiving and Christmas were empty.”
The Wilson community lost a great friend.