Alumni, Campus wide, Giving

Norris Family Legacy Living on Through Third Generation

By Jan Joslin | March 28, 2024
Tracy and Fred Norris at a recent President’s Club dinner. Photo by Ty Cornett

Fred Norris III and his wife, Tracy Compton Norris ’83, recently visited campus to deliver proceeds from The Frederick K. Norris Jr. and Mary Ann R. Norris Charitable Remainder Trust and the Fred K. Norris Jr. Charitable Remainder Unitrust.

The $321,507 gift will provide a Christian education to more young men and women. Fred and Tracy reflected on the legacy of Fred Norris Sr., Fred Norris Jr., and Mary Ann Norris. Fred and Tracy are continuing the family legacy through the Board of Visitors Scholarship Program and serving as stewards of the family trusts. 

“I’m blessed, so I’m led to give back,” said Fred. “Our desire is to better enable CSU to carry the light and hope of the gospel into this messed up world.”

The Norris family’s involvement began before Baptist College at Charleston (now CSU) was established. Baptists were raising money in the 1950s, and Fred’s grandfather, Fred Norris Sr., was involved in funding the school.

The family’s belief in the value of higher education was ingrained in Fred and his siblings by their parents, Fred Norris Jr. and Mary Ann Norris. Fred said, “My parents pushed to make sure we had the very best options in terms of education. We were fortunate to grow up with the faith aspect; my parent’s commitment to Jesus was unwavering. When you went home to St. Julien in Eutawville, you knew things would always be the same.”

Fred Jr. and Mary Ann met through the Baptist Student Union when Fred Jr. was a student at Clemson and Mary Ann was a student at Converse. Fred Jr. followed in his father’s footsteps of supporting BCC/CSU. He was elected to the Board of Trustees, and for the next 40 years he served numerous terms on the board.

“My parents were very committed to the school and made a lot of friends,” said Fred. “They brought us to BCC for concerts in the gym, such as Al Hirt, the Temptations, and the 5th Dimension. Robert and I even went to the first BCC SPORTS CAMP.” 

Fred’s mother loved and encouraged the arts making sure her five children took piano lessons and were exposed to cultural events such as opera, symphonies, and ballet. Each of the children were given the opportunity to select which event interested them the most and would take the ride with mama and daddy to Township Auditorium in Columbia. “I think my father may have slept through some of the performances after a long day on the farm, but they were a team, so he was a good sport about it,” said Fred. Fred absorbed the music instruction and later found rock and roll and the guitar.

Fred said his father was a visionary farmer. He wasn’t afraid to try new ideas and was involved in the community. Fred Jr. joined a farming co-op, Gold Kist, eventually becoming a board member. 

“I grew up seeing how my father interacted with people,” said Fred. “My mother and father were comfortable in all kinds of settings. They had a relatability factor. My mother enabled us to be an encouragement to others.

“Every morning at breakfast the five of us kids would be together around the table as mama and daddy would read a devotional and then we would pray together. They steadfastly continued these devotionals their entire lives ending their morning prebreakfast time praying out loud for each of us. Our parent’s prayers of faith not only led the way for each of us to encounter Jesus but also empowered us to faithfully remain on the road of destiny He had for each of our lives.”

Tracy added, “Fred has done a good job representing the family. I feel like I still see Mr. Fred through traits my husband has.”

Fred and Tracy met at church and married. They decided they wanted to run a business together and bought a carpet cleaning franchise in 1986. Several years later, they transitioned into the restoration/mitigation business. As services expanded, the business became Disaster Plus from an idea suggested by their friend, the late Barry Shropshire ’79.

Fred Jr. and Mary Ann Norris at a Board of Visitors meeting.

Disaster Plus provided mitigation work in Norris and Wingo Halls a year ago just before school started. “It was strange to be working there and reading about my grandfather, Fred Norris Sr. on the stairwell wall in Norris Hall,” said Fred. Norris Hall, originally was named the Fred K. Norris Hall – Library for Fred Sr.

Almost 40 years later, Tracy and Fred continue to serve in music ministry while still running the business together and helping people through some of the toughest times in their lives.

“Tracy is really good at having an ear and a sensitivity to pray for customers,” said Fred.

Looking back on their time in college, Fred and Tracy said you have to find the Lord for yourself. “You have to find your own relationship with Jesus – not your parents’ Jesus,” said Tracy. She continued, “Think of your Christian faith as an atomic bomb – that’s the power we have as Christians.”

Fred and Tracy are continuing to spread the legacy of Jesus through managing the Norris family trusts, in their business, and in their ministries.

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