The Sublette County Journal
Volume 4, Number 19 - 1/6/99
brought to you online by Pinedale Online
When I heard that Monte Norris had died, my first thought was, "He was always here." As neighbors, my parents often visited the Norris family and Monte, a young man at the time, was usually doing something with radios. His fascination with ham radio became a lifelong passion. But even that never took him away - he was always here.
Monte was a man of few words - but they were always pleasant words. George Barp probably knew Monte as well as anyone ever did and he says there were days when the two of them worked together on school buses and there wouldn't be more than 50 words between them all day. But, it was simply because they liked it that way.
I met a young woman in Rock Springs several years ago and when she learned I was from Big Piney she asked if I knew Monte Norris. It surprised me when she said she talked to him a lot on the ham radio. I never knew Monte to talk a lot to anyone.
Monte wasn't exactly a hermit; he was a regular at Erickson's Cafe and other eating places around town. He was visible to the community with his well-antennaed car and his home in a motel that has been vacant for a long time now. I don't ever recall seeing him at community meetings, entertainment programs, or social functions but he was a part of Big Piney life by always 'being here'. In his younger days he operated the projector at the Gaiety Theater. Or, he was the one with the car when the young folks had some place to go.
Monte, his father, mother, and his grandmother were the Norris family. Helen Atwood, a good friend of the Norris family, recalls that they had cousins in Colorado but the families didn't visit each other. Monte was working for George Barp when some people stopped by the shop and asked for Monte. He'd gone for coffee but when he returned he went out to visit with them at their car. Later, George asked if they were relatives of his and Monte replied, "Well, they said they were."
The society pages of newspapers list reports of meetings and programs for a variety of organizations and social events. Some people gain a sense of belonging by taking part in politics, card parties, school activities, or church functions. We just need to belong to other people. For Monte, communicating with people through a society of ham radio operators fulfilled his need to belong. But, Monte also belonged to us, his community. We won't see him drive his car, stacked high with newspapers, etc., to an ideal spot for talking on the ham radio, where he will park and talk to some remote part of the world. We won't see him adjusting the antennas atop his home or see him park a car in the yard because he just got a new one.
We will remember that Monte "was always here," never asking much of others, generous with land that would benefit his community, and living a quiet life at peace with himself and the world.
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