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William R. Norris (Bill)

April 17, 1931 ~ July 5, 2020 (age 89)



William R. Norris (Bill), 89, passed from this world to his new life on July 5, 2020 at the Toni and Trish House, Auburn, Michigan.  An eternal optimist, Bill embraced living with his whole self. He was an adventurer and an explorer, a perennial student who loved learning, a man who was inspired by philosophy, science, and genealogy, and one who never met a person with whom he could not talk or share stories.

Bill was born in Lansing, Michigan, son of Herbert and Ruth (Lyons) Norris.  He attended elementary school in Holt and graduated from high school in Charlotte before heading to The University of Michigan to study chemical engineering.  After earning his Bachelor of Science and MBA degrees, Bill was called to serve a two-year stint with the U.S. Army during the height of the Korean War.  Following honorable discharge, Bill returned to Ann Arbor to earn his Juris Doctor degree.

While in law school, Bill met Patricia Lipnicke at a social gathering. They married in 1957 and two years later, they moved to Midland when Bill became a patent law attorney for The Dow Chemical Company.  They had two children, Barbara Ruth and Daniel William, before Pat died unexpectedly.

Bill’s 37-plus year career at Dow developed rapidly as he traveled to 34 different countries to litigate patent and trademark cases.  Along the way, he garnered an interest in and talent for analyzing the application of international tax laws. He was a member of the ABA (American Bar Association) and PIPA (Pacific Intellectual Property Association), serving as its president for two years.  He thrived on the challenges of his work and the people he met because of it. 

Bill married Julie (Miller) Klesney in Midland in 1987, adding her two children and her extended family to his own.  He and Julie celebrated thirty-three years of marriage in April 2020.  Together they enjoyed building their homes, gardening, hiking, observing nature, traveling and watching sunsets over Lake Michigan and beyond the mountains in their winter home of Tucson, Arizona.

Throughout his life, Bill was a weekend warrior.  He played volleyball, racquetball, and tennis with a passion using his height and long arm reach to his advantage.  He was an avid rock hunter, always believing he’d find that glimmer of gold someday.  He was a faithful Christian, a member of Mount Zion Lutheran Church in Tucson and Trinity Lutheran Church, Midland. 

Left to fondly remember this uncommon man are his wife Julie, daughter Barbara Norris (Suzanne Smith), step-daughter Jennifer Luzar (William) and step-son Joe Klesney (Maria); brothers-in-law John Lipnicke (Myrna), Bruce Miller (Patricia), Michael Miller (Linda); sisters-in-law Jane Hodnik (Jim) and Cindi Lacamera (Mark); his five treasured grandchildren: Ben, Sam, Katie, Max and Allison; many nieces and nephews and close friends. Bill was predeceased by his parents, his first wife Patricia, son Daniel, sister Mary Stapelman, and sister-in-law Jean Schroder.

Cremation has taken place.  Because of COVID-19 restrictions, there will be no funeral.  A graveside service for the family will be officiated by Pastor Gerald Ferguson.  A celebration of Bill’s life will be held at a future time.  Bill’s family wants to thank Melinda Diment for the excellent and compassionate care she gave to Bill and for the staff at The Toni and Trish House in his final days. Those who wish to honor Bill’s memory are asked to consider the Toni and Trish House, Trinity Lutheran Church, or Chippewa Nature Center.  Always one to offer free advice, Bill would tell you to live out your dreams and always believe you will find that glimmer of gold.

Wilson-Miller Funeral Home, 4210 North Saginaw Road, is handling arrangements.

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