Norman Willey

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Norman Booth Willey, 95

Norman Booth Willey, 95, died, November 6, 2012, in Lafayette. He was born September 6, 1917, in Olive Branch, Mississippi. He grew up in Chicago and graduated from Western Military Academy in Alton, Illinois.

In 1940, he graduated from Purdue University with a B.S. in Physical Education. While at Purdue, he was captain of the wrestling team for two years and on the football and track teams. On October 25, 1941, he married Dora Hale Stong, who predeceased him in 2009. He served in the Army Air Corps from 1940-1946 with 2 ½ years in the South Pacific, where General Douglas MacArthur awarded him the citation for bravery and the Soldiers Medal of Valor. During the war, he was field-promoted to Captain. He remained in the Air Force Reserve, attaining the rank of Lt. Colonel. After the War, he earned his Master's degree in Education from Purdue.

He began teaching and coaching at Jefferson High School in 1947. At Jeff he taught 100's of Bronchos how to drive in the driver's education program and later taught physical education until his retirement. He founded the wrestling program at Jeff and was the head wrestling coach until his retirement. He also coached football and baseball at Jeff.

His love of football and Purdue saw him at every Purdue home game for 56 years holding the chain on the sidelines as part of the "chain gang."

After his retirement, he was named to the Indiana Wrestling Hall of Fame and was named to the Jefferson High School Wall of Fame. During his retirement, he volunteered with his wife for Meals on Wheels and the Food Pantry for 27 years.

He enjoyed fishing, gardening, traveling, watching his grandchildren's sports, and following Purdue and Jeff athletics on television and radio—often watching one team on television while listening to another on the radio.

He managed the Lafayette Parks swimming pools for 30 summers and could be seen driving his little red Crosley truck to all the pools.

Besides his wife, he was predeceased by his son, William N. Willey, in 2009, and his brother and two sisters.

He is survived by his daughters, Cindy Kenrich (Dale) of West Lafayette and Lexie Schwabel (Ron) of Lutz, Florida. He also leaves three grandchildren: Eli Kenrich (Marjie), Hamilton, Ohio; Erin Kenrich (companion, Raymond Ross), West Lafayette; and Josephine Schwabel, Rochester, New York. His great grandchildren are Allison, Charles, and Mary, Hamilton, Ohio.

In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate your giving to the N.B. Willey Wrestling Scholarship, Jefferson High School Athletic Department, Jefferson High School, 1801 South 18th Street, Lafayette, IN 47905.

Visitation will be from 1:00 to 3:00 PM Sunday at Soller-Baker Lafayette Chapel 400 Twyckenham Blvd. Leave condolences at

Published in the Journal & Courier from Nov. 8 to Nov. 10, 2012
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