Judge Norris BoxJuly 6, 1934 ~ December 18, 2017 (age 83)
Born July 6, 1934 in the Winborn Chapel community of Greene County, MS, Judge Norris Box, 83, died at his home in the same community of his birth on Monday, December 18, 2017. The Box family surrounded Norris as he passed from life to death. With the exception of his military service and a brief period living in Mobile, AL, Norris lived on the same piece of property his entire life with his birth and death locations separated by only a few hundred feet. He was a lifelong, dedicated member of Winborn Chapel United Methodist Church where his remains were laid to rest in the Winborn Chapel cemetery.
He is survived by his wife of 59 years Mary Nell (Slay) Box along with three sons, Dale (Diane) Box of Leakesville, Danny Box, and Dean (Paula) Box both residents of Winborn Chapel Community. Norris had four grandchildren, Jason (Kara) Box of Leakesville, Lauren Box (Chase) Taylor of Laurel, Lindsey Box, and Gracie Box both of Winborn Chapel community. He left one sister, Janette Box (Lavon) Daughtry, of Opp, AL, as well as several nephews and nieces.
Norris was preceded in death by his parents Judge Neville and Effie (McLeod) Box, one sister Audrey (Box) Pridgen, and two brothers Morris Box and Aubrey Box both of whom died as young children. He was also preceded by his maternal grandparents Robert and Mary McLeod who cared for and raised him after the untimely death of his mother in 1940 when Norris was six years old. Norris was also preceded by six beloved aunts and a dear uncle all who helped shape his life after his mother and their sister died.
Norris attended Vernal School in Greene County and then went on to graduate from Leakesville High School in 1953. He grew up on his grandparents’ small subsistence farm learning the value of hard work and seeing the difficulty of “scratching” a living from the land. Because he was being cared for by elderly grandparents during the 1940’s, hard conditions forced responsibility upon Norris at a young age. He learned lessons in that environment that made him the man and person he became as an adult.
After graduation, Norris worked at various jobs in Louisiana, Mississippi, and Alabama until the United States Army drafted him in 1956. He went to basic training in Fort Chafee, Arkansas and Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri before serving 18 months stationed in Germany. He often talked with pride about his service to the country and the friends he made during his service.
Soon after the U.S. Army discharged him in 1958, Norris began to work on a dredge boat in Mobile Bay, and he quickly advanced to the position of captain on a dredge called the “Mallard.” Norris captained the “Mallard” until 1965 during which time he helped secure work on the boat for several family and friends from his home community and county.
On January 17, 1959, Norris married Mary Nell Slay from the Basin community in George County, MS. After a short stint living in Mobile, they built a home in the Winborn Chapel community and began to raise their family with the birth of their first son in 1962. Two more boys followed in 1963 and 1969. Norris’ three sons grew up on the same small farm where his grandparents raised him, and he taught them the value of honorable work and an appreciation for their land.
In 1965, Norris went to work for Mitternight Boiler Works in Satsuma, AL just north of Mobile in order to be home with his family in Greene County each night. He worked there until his retirement in May 1996. At Mitternight, Norris molded and shaped steel into huge vessels for service in local chemical plants as well as other facilities all over the United States. The work demanded physical strength and skill, and fellow employees still remark about the strength Norris displayed in his work. Again, he took the opportunity to help family and friends find employment some of whom made a career in the boiler trade.
Norris never fully left the work of the farm, since for decades he had farmed to supplement his employment income. Upon retirement in 1996, he spent his days on the farm gardening, producing corn, and growing hay. His sons continue to raise many of the same crops as their father on the same land where their father spent the greater part of his life.
Norris and his wife along with his dear cousin and her husband made trips to the Northeast and out West to Yellowstone National Park. He also went on trips with the George County Co Op to see and experience agriculture in other areas of the United States. He spoke fondly of all his travels until his death.
Aside from his enjoyment of farm work, Norris enjoyed quail hunting and coon hunting at different times in his life. He had a lifelong love for fishing. He liked to fish for bream and set trot lines for catfish on the Chickasawhay and Mobile Rivers.
Norris had a lifelong love for Southern Blue Grass Gospel music. He was a regular at the annual “Two Rivers Blue Grass Festival” where he would stay for entire sessions and attend every day of the festival. He enjoyed the same type stringed instrument music in the church. Norris never missed a special singing, and he consistently encouraged the singers with shouts of approval!
A wake will be held on Wednesday, December 20, 2017 at Freeman Funeral Home from 6-9 pm. The Funeral Service will be held on Thursday, December 21, 2017 at 3 pm at Winborn Chapel United Methodist Church with Bro. Jim Hall and Bro. Cecil Locke officiating. Interment will be in the Winborn Chapel Cemetery. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to the Winborn Chapel UMC building fund or a favorite charity. Online condolences may be given at www.freemanleakesville.com. Freeman Funeral Home- Leakesville, MS