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WNIJ's summary of news items around our state.

Webbs Norman, Longtime Leader Of The Rockford Park District, Has Died

Rockford Park District

The man who made the Rockford Park District an award-winning entity has died. Webbs Norman passed away Saturday at the age of 85.

Norman was Executive Director of the Rockford Park District from 1972 to 2006. He led the development of many of the city's biggest recreational projects, including Magic Waters water park, two ice arenas, the Sportscore complexes, and many parks, playgrounds, and paths.

In 2012, Norman co-authored the book Building a Lasting Dream, 1909 to 2009, a History of the Rockford Il Park District with Geri Nikolai and Tim Dimke.  He also was known for his endearing personality.

The park district's current director Jay Sandine released the following statement:

His ability to build relationships, inspire those around him, and create unity helped to establish a park and recreation system considered throughout our industry as the best in the nation. However, to Webbs, the national awards always took back seat to the opinion of the local tax payer. Webbs believed the role of the Park District was simple, fill needs and solve problems. It was never his Park District, it was the community’s. Always involve those who were impacted by the decisions we make was a common philosophy for Webbs. Do what we do best and help others do what they do best. When our values are clear, the decisions are easy. These and many other words of wisdom created a Park District the community truly felt ownership in. Webbs also had the uncanny ability of making every single person he came in contact with feel as though they were the most important person in the world, because at that moment, they were to Webbs. If you had the privilege of meeting Webbs, perhaps you shared a cup of coffee with him at a local diner or you never met him but heard a story about Webbs, consider yourself blessed. Life was always beautiful to Webbs Norman. Every day was an opportunity to bring people together to celebrate. The best way we can honor a man who honored and served his community his whole life is to celebrate him. Celebrate his humbleness, his humor, and his wisdom. Celebrate his commitment to service, hope, and seeing everyone as equal. Celebrate Webbs Norman’s life as he made our lives and community a better place. Though not here physically, Webbs’ spirit and the culture he created will live on. Thank you Webbs Norman for ‘helping people enjoy life.'

The community is invited to attend a visitation and memorial service to celebrate the life of Webbs Norman. Webbs referred to these end-of-life events as his "graduation ceremony" and another way he could bring people together. 

Visitation Information:  Friday, February 1, 2019 at Zion Lutheran Church, 925 5th Avenue, Rockford, IL from 3 p.m. - 7 p.m.

Memorial Service Information:  Saturday, February 2, 2019 at Indoor Sports Center at Mercyhealth Sportscore Two, 8800 E. Riverside Blvd., Loves Park, IL at 11 a.m.  An opportunity for fellowship will follow the memorial service.

Susan is an award-winning reporter/writer at her favorite radio station. She's also WNIJ's Perspectives editor, Under Rocks contributor, and local host of All Things Considered.