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Obituary: James Norick

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Former Oklahoma City Mayor James "Jim" Norick died of natural causes on Wednesday, March 4. Norick served his first term as Oklahoma City mayor from 1959-1963 and a second from 1967-1971. He was also the father of former Oklahoma City Mayor Ron Norick.

Jim Norick was born in 1920, the son of two Oklahoma natives, Henry Calvin and Ruth Norick. He worked at a printing business, Norick Brothers, founded by his father and Uncle Lon. He was educated in Oklahoma, graduating from Classen High School in 1938. From there, he went to the Claremore Military Academy.

He served in the U.S. Navy during WWII, and his ship's crew received a Presidential Unit Citation.

Before he was elected mayor, Norick served as city councilman for Ward 1 from 1951 to 1955. He would be elected mayor as a Democrat in 1959. During his first term, he oversaw one of the largest expansions of the city limits of Oklahoma City, adding hundreds of square miles via annexation of surrounding areas. Norick's second term as mayor was marked by his work, in cooperation with the Oklahoma City Council, to beautify the city.

Rick Moore, an aide to Mayor Ron Norick, wrote a book about the father-and-son mayors in 2006. Norick: The Mayors of Oklahoma City was cowritten with Moore’s brother, Bill, a retired historian. Rick Moore said two of the most important things Jim Norick did as mayor was start the water line from Atoka Lake and annex surrounding land.

“Much of what Jim did to improve the city’s infrastructure was not necessarily politically popular at the time,” Moore said. “However, without those moves, we would not have the infrastructure we have today; there would have been no room to expand and no room for the airport.”

Prior to his military service, Norick married Madalynn King in 1940. The two remained married until Mrs. Norick's death in 2009. She was a supporter of the Red Cross for more than a half century, and both were recognized as Wall of Fame inductees by the Oklahoma City Public Schools Foundation.

John Michael Williams is an Oklahoma City attorney who knew the couple and whose wife served on the board of the Red Cross with Mrs. Norick.

"Jim was very supportive of Madalynn and her work with the Red Cross," Williams said. "I think that's the best way to say it. He supported her in her dedication to the organization."

Both Williams and Moore remember Norick as a man with a heart for public service.

“Neither father nor son ever ran for anything except local offices,” Moore said. “Public service is in the family’s genes.”

When Moore was Ron Norick’s aide, Jim would often visit his son or come to important events. In those moments, the relationship between father and son was most obvious.

“When Jim showed up, Ron would say, ‘Here’s the real mayor,’” Moore said.

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