Brigadier General Norris P. Abts, USA Retired, Fountain City, Wis.
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General Abts, a highly decorated veteran of Army service, passed away Sunday, Jan. 12, 2014, at Lake Winona Manor, Winona.
Norris Abts was born Jan. 26, 1931, in Fountain City, Wis., to Orville J. and Marcella Barth Abts. A graduate of Fountain City High School, Winona State University, Walden University, American Military University and attended the University of St. Thomas, University of Munich (Germany) and the University of Minnesota. His military education consisted of the U.S. Army Ordnance School (enlisted), the U.S. Army Ordnance School (officer), the U.S. Army Quartermaster School, Officer Advanced, the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, the Industrial College of the Armed Forces, the Defense Systems Management College, the National Defense University-Computer Institute, the Anti-Terrorist School, the Defense Systems Management College of the Department of Defense and the U.S. Army Logistics University.
He entered the Army in 1951, did basic training with the Fifth Infantry Division and served as an enlisted soldier until he was commissioned in 1959. He served in command and staff positions in Germany, Minnesota, Iowa, Illinois, Ohio, Missouri, Virginia and Wisconsin. He served on the staff at the U.S. Army Ordnance Center. He was promoted to Brigadier General in 1985 and served as the Deputy Commanding General of the 103rd Corps Support Command (COSCOM) in support of V Corps in Germany. In 1989, he served as liaison to the Bundewehr-Unterstutzen Kommando, the German Army Logistal Korps.
He was known throughout the Army as one of the foremost and effective leaders among the logistics professionals. He was held in high esteem by the military leadership of the NATO countries.
He received the following awards and decorations: Distinguished Service Medal, Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal with Oak Leaf Cluster, Army Commendation Medal w/2 OCL, Army Achievement Medal w/2 OCL, Good Conduct Medal w/OCL, Army of Occupation Medal, National Defense Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal w/4 OCL, Army Reserve Commendation Achievement Medal w/4 OCL, Army Service Medal, and Overseas Service Medal. He was awarded Keys to the Cities of Minneapolis (Minnesota) and Des Moines (Iowa). The Ordnance Corps awarded him the honor of membership in the prestigious Order of Samuel Sharpe and order within the Corps of outstanding soldiers.
On Sept. 4, 1954, he married Rhoda Engel in Winona. Norris taught at the Winona Senior High School and later at the Winona Technical College. In 1969, he began his 19-year administrative career, retiring as vice president in 1988. During his administrative career at Winona Technical College, his primary responsibilities revolved around program development and organizational efficiency. He was known throughout the Minnesota Technical College System as a highly competent and astute leader. His passion for the automotive programs grew from his earlier career as an automotive technician in the Winona and Fountain City area. In March 2013, he was honored by the Minnesota State College & University System and Minnesota State College-Southeast Technical College with the naming of the new transportation building as the "Norris P. Abts Transportation Center."
After retiring from the college, he then returned to active duty with the Army until reaching Army retirement. He was recalled to duty as the subject matter expert for the annual NATO Exercise. He was a past commander of the 544th Maintenance Company, the 302nd Combat Sustainment Battalion, the 56th Materiel Management Center, the Deputy Chief of Staff - Materiel, 88th ARCOM at Fort Snelling, Assistant Chief of Staff-Materiel and Deputy Commanding General of the 103rd Corps Support Command at Ft. Des Moines, Iowa. In addition, he served as a maintenance operations officer of the 158th Combat Sustainment Group and the Deputy Chief of Staff-Maintenance of the 88th USARCOM headquartered at Fort Snelling. His first overseas assignment as a private in the newly organized National Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) and 38 years later bid farewell to it as a senior Logistic General.
He was a member of the Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, Winona, Elks Club, Winona Kiwanis Club, the Reserve Officers Association of the United States, Association of the United States Army, Military Officers Association of America, The Ordnance Corps Association, the Quartermaster Corps Association, past member of the Senior Army Commanders Association and the Fort Snelling Officers Club. He also was a member of the American Legion Post #9, Veterans of Foreign Wars Post #1287, AMVETS of Winona, and the American Career Education Association. He was named to the Wall of Fame at the U.S. Army Command and General Staff College, Fort Leavenworth, Kan. He was honored in 2001 by the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps naming him to the Order of Samuel Sharpe. This honorary society is for the purpose of recognizing those individuals who have served the Ordnance Corps with demonstrated integrity, moral character and professional competence. He was also named to the U.S. Army Ordnance Corps Hall of Fame.
Norris touched the lives of many people throughout the world. During his military career, he served on three continents. He was respected for his honesty, sincerity, dedication to his wife, friends, relatives and to his careers. He was a highly respected throughout the Army for his technical expertise and his ability to insure that the tasks were completed expeditiously. He touched many hearts and will be greatly missed. He treasured his childhood friends as well as those he was associated with throughout his life. He loved cars and wrote several documents on the birth and developmental years of the industry. He was a devout husband who enjoyed his home life and once he retired enjoyed restoring antique vehicles, golfing, making improvements to their home, reading, travel and spending the winters in Palm Springs, Calif.
Beloved husband of 59 years to Rhoda, who survives him. Also survived by five godchildren; and many relatives and friends.
His mother, father, infant son, mother-in-law and father-in-law have preceded him in death.
A private funeral service is planned.
Services entrusted to Fawcett-Junker Funeral Home and Cremation Service of Fountain City, Wis., and Winona.
Words of sympathy or remembrance may be left at fawcett-junkerfuneralhome.com.
Published in The Post-Bulletin on Jan. 14, 2014