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Officer, educator and hockey lover Wayne Norby dies at 91

August 4, 2018

Minnesota native Wayne Norby had a long and varied career in the U.S. Air Force, the Central Intelligence Agency and as a teacher.

And through it all ran a thread of love for hockey born in his home state.

Norby died of complications of Parkinson’s disease on June 26 at his home in Fort Belvoir, Va. He was 91.

Norby was born in Hitterdal, Minn., an only child. His family moved to Minneapolis when he was an infant.

Wayne Norby’s daughter says her father got his work ethic from his mother.

“His mother [Alice Norby] was a remarkable woman,” Karen Wolf said. “She worked until she was 90. And then volunteered after that. She lived to be 104 [she died in 2012]. My father was an exceptional man who stayed busy like her.”

At Minneapolis North High School, Wayne Norby served as president of his senior class of 300, and valedictorian at its graduation in June 1944.

He studied chemical engineering at the University of Minnesota for two quarters before enlisting in the Army. He received an appointment to the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, N.Y., where he lettered in hockey for three years.

After graduating in 1949, he was commissioned an officer in the Air Force and assigned to Tyndall Air Force Base in Panama City, Fla.

During the Korean War, he served as a weather officer. After the war, he was stationed in Germany. On his return to the United States, he was stationed at Scott Air Force Base in Belleville, Ill. While stationed there, he earned his master’s degree in mathematics from the University of Illinois.

He then joined the faculty at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., as a math instructor. In the early 1960s, he helped start the hockey program at the U.S. Air Force Academy.

In “Flashes of Silver,” a history of Air Force hockey, Norby was described as a dedicated pioneer “who helped sustain the Air Force hockey program” in its first decade.

After leaving the academy in 1970, he had assignments at the Air Command and Staff College in Montgomery, Ala., and the Pentagon and the Industrial College of the Armed Forces in Washington, D.C. As a liaison officer to the Air Force Academy board, “he was instrumental in admission of women to the academy,” Wolf said.

He retired from the Air Force with the rank of colonel in 1977, and went to work for the CIA as a director of training. After retiring from the CIA, he taught math at Northern Virginia Community College.

“My father infected our whole family with a love of hockey,” said Wolf. “It started when he played at West Point. We went to a reunion at West Point a few years ago that he enjoyed. One of my nephews plays junior hockey … three years ago, we came to the Twin Cities to watch him play. [Wayne Norby] was a big Washington Capitals fan and got to see them win a Stanley Cup.”

In addition to his daughter, Karen, Norby is survived by sons John and James and seven grandchildren. His wife of 59 years, Elaine, died in 2014.

A burial service for Wayne and Elaine Norby will be held at 1:15 p.m. Saturday at Fort Snelling National Cemetery.

“They had a choice where they would be buried — Arlington National Cemetery, West Point or Fort Snelling,” said Karen Wolf.

“They chose Fort Snelling. They met while my father was stationed at Fort Snelling. For them, it’s going home.”

Joel Rippel • 612-673-4719

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