Kenneth Derryl Norris went to be with his Lord and Savior on Monday, August 7, 2023, at the age of 79 surrounded by his family and friends. He is survived by his loving wife of 17 years, Diann Cain Norris, two daughters, Tiffany Nuccio (Joe) and Katie Williams (Paul), two sons, Kenneth O. Norris, II (Dawn) and Scott Norris (Laura), nine grandchildren, Derryl and Chelsea Norris, Nicholas, Clayton, and Jacob Nuccio, Olivia Norris, and Emily, Anna, and Sadie Williams. He is also survived by one sister, Janice Wood, and one brother, Dennis Norris (Leah), and a host of nieces and nephews. Kenny was preceded in death by his parents, K. O. and Winifred Norris.
He was born in Jesup, Georgia on February 15, 1944, and spent his early years enjoying time with his beloved grandparents and family there. Later his family moved to Louisiana, living in New Orleans and Baton Rouge. Kenny graduated from Baton Rouge High School and was a member of the football team and played drums in the marching band. He then attended LSU but chose to enlist in the army, emulating his daddy who served our great country in WWII.
Serving in the U.S Army from 1966-1971, Kenny spent a year and half on active duty. He served the remainder of his time in the US Army National Guard. His MOS was a 91A1P Medical paratrooper (AMED) and was first assigned to 22nd Special Forces out of Ft. Bragg. He was with the 44th Company 4th Special Troop Airborne Battalion, 3rd U. S. Army. His unit was reorganized under the 20th Special Forces 4th Battalion of the 1st Special Forces supporting 1st and 5th Special Forces of the Green Beret. He was honorably discharged from the guard in 1971.
In a time of transition, Kenny worked as a Dr. Pepper truck driver. Owning only one pair of shoes, one of which had a hole in it, he stopped at a shoe repair shop. After hearing he would have to leave his shoe for a week, he asked if he could please wait. While waiting, he met a Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s deputy, who informed him of an upcoming training academy. Little did he know that a Dr. Pepper truck and a hole in his shoe would lead him on a path to becoming a legend in the Louisiana State Police.
He worked at the Jefferson Parish Sheriff’s Department from 1967 to 1970 before joining the Louisiana State Police. His outstanding job with the Sheriff’s Department resulted in his immediate assignment to a Joint Task Force on organized crime. He was promoted within months, and it was not until 1971 that he attended the Louisiana State Police Academy as a Sergeant. He was the first to attend the Academy at this rank. Progressing quickly, he became one of the longest serving Lieutenant Colonels within the Louisiana State Police. He was Chief of Staff and then served multiple Louisiana State Governors as Deputy Superintendent of the Louisiana State Police and the Office of Public Safety. He retired with distinguished honors in 2000 after 32 years of service. He was meticulous in his ways and disciplined in his habits. He always presented himself in a professional manner and his uniform and weapon were always above reproach. He believed first impressions were indicative of how a trooper would perform his job. One could easily be “Norrisized” if performance was below his expectations. Lieutenant Colonel Kenneth Norris is still remembered today for his high standards of integrity and expectations for the troopers he led.
After Kenny retired from the State Police, he became an investigator for the Louisiana Department of Corrections. In 2001, Warden Burl Cain recruited Kenny to serve as the Assistant Warden of Investigations at Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola. During his time there, he was the warden of farm operations, the hospital, and the hospice program. He helped change the culture at Angola that brought about moral rehabilitation. He treated the prisoners with respect and valued the person regardless of their circumstances. After Hurricane Katrina, Warden Cain sent Kenny to establish a makeshift jail in New Orleans and assist law enforcement efforts after the storm. He was also instrumental in transforming the conditions at the New Iberia Parish Jail. He retired in 2016 and enjoyed his retirement living on his farm in Pitkin, Louisiana.
In addition to law enforcement, he kept the tradition of his daddy and joined as a perpetual member of New Orleans Galileo-Mazzini Lodge 368 in 1967. In 2006 he attained plural membership with Pitkin Lodge 338 where he is currently Junior Steward. He has been a member of the Grand Lodge of the State of Louisiana Free and Accepted Masons for 55 years.
Kenny was an exceptional son and was respectful, kind, and helpful to his parents, children, sister, and brother. As a Daddy, he was faithful and dependable. He would always say, “Call if you need me” and he really meant it. In later times, Kenny would say, “If I can’t get it done, I will find someone who can.” He was always generous with what he had. As a husband, he was faithful and loving. He kept Diann laughing and always made sure she had the best of what she needed in all areas of her life. He attended church regularly with her and in the course of time he came to know Jesus as his personal Lord and Savior. He was the best Pawpaw ever. He was encouraging and supportive of all his grandchildren’s activities and goals. He gave lots of talks about life, jobs, and what they needed to do to prepare for the future.
After he retired, he mentored many men of all ages inside and outside of his family. He listened without judgement and advised with care. He had a gift for recognizing potential and would open his home to provide opportunities for work and life skills to help these men find their purpose. His impact on the lives of others is without measure.
A Memorial service for Kenny will be held on Saturday, August 12, 2023, at 1:00 pm at First Baptist Church of Pitkin with Reverend Stacy Morgan officiating. Burial will follow in Blue Branch Cemetery under the direction of Johnson Funeral Home with Louisiana State Police and United States Army honors. A visitation will be held on Friday, August 11, 2023, at First Baptist Church of Pitkin from 5:00 – 9:00 pm with a Masonic service at 7:00 pm. Visitation will resume on Saturday from 9:00 am until the time of service.
Donations may be made in his honor to First Baptist Church of Pitkin.