Kenneth Norman Jr.
1943 - 2021
Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home
803 Main Street
Racine, WI

Kenneth John Norman, Jr.

July 19, 1943 – May 9, 2021

RACINE - Kenneth Norman, Jr. passed away on May 9, 2021 from a brief but devastating illness. He is survived by his loving son, Derek Norman, brother Tom Norman, and sisters Mary Katherine Norman, Margaret Petrick, and Paula (Joel) Goldsmith. Further survived by nieces and nephews: Tommy Norman, Jolene Goldsmith, Mitch (Margaret) Goldsmith, Kirstyn Bay, Courtney (Martyn Philips) Bay, and McKenzie Costello. Also survived by countless friends and Jean Vassallo, mother of his son. He was predeceased by his parents.

Ken was born July 19, 1943 in Seattle, Washington, the first child of Helen and Ken Norman, Sr. In 1947 they moved to Racine. Ken enjoyed a carefree childhood: riding bikes, swimming at the YMCA, camping with his boy scout troop, delivering newspapers, and tending a room full of tropical fish tanks. Childhood hobbies challenged his mechanical mind and foreshadowed future interests. He built model cars and planes, drew hotrods, operated a ham radio, and repaired neighbor's tv's and radios. Adult hobbies were car repair, electrical work, computers, and cooking and baking. He loved to repair and customize musical instruments. His favorite sports team was the Chicago Cubs.

Ken attended St. Edward grade school, St. Catherine's High School, UW-Racine, Dominican College, and UW-Madison. He was a gifted math student and chose a major in mechanical engineering. Eventually he embraced his destiny and became a music major. From birth, he was surrounded by music in the family home. He started to pick out tunes on the piano. This lead to formal piano and church organ lessons. By age nine, flashy brass instruments caught his eye and ear. He took lessons on baritone horn and trombone, then discovered the joy of performing in a group. He played in the grade school band, Racine Elks Youth Band, St. Catherine's High School Band, and UW Madison marching band. By age 19 he joined the Racine Kilties Drum and Bugle Corps, specializing in french horn bugle. Corps Musical Director Emil Pavlik became Ken's mentor and encouraged him to arrange music, a skill that remained his passion for life. Ken went on to perform with, arrange music for, and teach drum and bugle corps all across North America. Wanting to improve the range and musicality of bugles, he invented and helped fabricate a new type of bugle in 1968. Ken was ultimately honored for his musical innovations and achievements by induction into 5 Halls of Fame: Drum Corps International, World Drum Corps, Bugler's, Racine Kilties, and St. Catherine's High School. For more information see

But Ken's talents were not limited to marching band music. Over the years he collaborated with fellow musicians in Jazz, Big Band, Rock and Roll, Country Western, Polka, Dixie Land, and symphonic groups. He co-founded the Belle City Brass Works, played with Racine Municipal Band, performed at Catholic Churches, and played piano for high school musicals. In previous decades, he was music director for Cardiac Capers fundraisers, Miss Racine pageants, and Miss Wisconsin candidates. He truly enjoyed gathering people to create music and bring joy to audiences.

Ken's ashes will be interred at West Lawn Memorial Park in Mt. Pleasant, Wisconsin. A celebration of life is planned for June 17, 2021, from 4:00 until 9:00 PM at Preservation Hall Racine at 740 Lake Ave.


803 MAIN ST. RACINE, WI 53403


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Published by Racine Journal Times on May 16, 2021.
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Celebration of Life
4:00p.m. - 9:00p.m.
Pioneer Musical Youth Center
2000 E Birchwood Ave, Cudahy, WI
Funeral services provided by:
Maresh-Meredith & Acklam Funeral Home
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6 Entries
To Muffy and Paula and the entire Norman family. So sorry for your loss. The Racine music scene will never be the same. He will be missed!
Michele Heck Caskey
June 1, 2021
RIP Sweet Kenny!! I met Kenny years ago when he was the Musical Director of Cardiac Capers!!! Very Talented man, who will be missed by many!!
Clara Minardi Pappenfuss
May 24, 2021
Kenosha Kingsmen Pin and corps colors and emblem Ken was the music director of the corps ( 1963 ? to 1970 ) and played Mellophone and bass baritone
Ralph Geigner
May 23, 2021
Ken Norman Kenosha Kingsmen 1969 Ken is the 4th Mellophone, from your left Stand Still Kenosha, WI
Ralph Geigner
May 23, 2021
I got to know him over the summers of 1972 - 1975. As nice a man as you would ever meet and a brilliant musical genius. Thank you for readily accepting me as a Kiltie from Seattle from day 1
Terry Addington
May 19, 2021
I know Ken from the Antioch moose lodge. What musical talent he had throughout his life. Ken will truly be missed. Please know I am praying for your family.
Debbie Jung
May 18, 2021
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