Richard A. "Dick" Norris Obituary

Richard A.
Richard A. "Dick" Norris

March 9, 1927 - May 31, 2020
Born in New York City, New York
Resided in Warren, New Jersey


Richard A. Norris, 93, of Warren, New Jersey, died at home, surrounded by his family, on 5/31/2020 of pancreatic cancer.

Dick will be remembered for his ready wit and sense of humor, his intellect, his professionalism, his passion for sports and music, and most notably for his love for and devotion to Barbara, his wife and team-mate of over 63 years.

He grew up in the environs of Atlantic City and later attended Lehigh University, graduating in 1949 with a B.S. in Chemistry. While at Lehigh he played varsity baseball and soccer and was a member of the band. He also entered, and won, an intramural debating competition and was invited to join the varsity debating team. That achievement changed his life, for it was the faculty advisor/coach who persuaded him to apply to law school. He was accepted and attended Harvard Law School, graduating in 1952. To help finance his education costs, he had received a half-scholarship/half-loan from Lehigh. He later received a half-scholarship/half-loan from Harvard Law School and used the Harvard loan to pay off the Lehigh loan.

Upon graduation from law school, Dick served two years in the U.S. Air Force during the Korean conflict as a Staff Judge Advocate at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base and was honorably discharged in 1954 with the rank of Captain. He then returned to New Jersey and a judicial clerkship with the Honorable Philip Forman, Chief Judge of the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey. Following his clerkship he entered a two-lawyer general practice in Somerset County, New Jersey, that has grown to more than 130 attorneys with offices in New Jersey, New York City and Pennsylvania. The firm is called Norris McLaughlin, P.A.

Dick’s legal career of more than 60 years was both extensive and diversified. He was the first Public Defender for Somerset County in 1969. He served as Municipal Attorney for Franklin Township and for South Bound Brook and also as the counsel for Somerset County’s Board of Elections and Board of Taxation. He successfully represented more than ten investor groups in obtaining charters to operate commercial banks in New Jersey.

He was named to “Best Lawyers in America” each year for over 25 years, published many articles in legal publications and was a frequent speaker and panelist at many programs and symposiums. He served as President of the Somerset County Bar Association, was selected as its Professional Lawyer of the Year in 2003 and received its Lifetime Achievement Award in 2005. He also was honored by the New Jersey State Bar Association and the New Jersey Commission on Professionalism in the Law, receiving their annual award in 2009.

Dick was an active member of the American Civil Liberties Union. He instituted and maintained several legal actions in court to defend and preserve rights and liberties of individuals from violation. He also participated in community service as a board member of the Somerset Valley Visiting Nurses Association, Somerset Valley YMCA, Temple Sholom and the Jewish Federation of Somerset, Hunterdon and Warren Counties. He was also a past President of the Somerville Kiwanis Club and spent more than a few frigid evenings on the street ringing the bell and manning the kettle for donations to the Salvation Army during the holiday season.

He is survived by his beloved wife, Barbara, son Robert Norris (and wife Anne), daughter Nancy Gould (and husband Peter), and five grandchildren (Sam and Morgan Gould and Maddie, Ben and Rachel Norris).

A private graveside funeral is planned. Arrangements by Bruce C. VanArsdale Funeral Home, Somerville. The family will hold a memorial service in the future. Contributions in his memory can be made to VNA Health Group Foundation, 23 Main Street, Suite D1, Holmdel, NJ 07733 (make check payable to VNA Hospice), or online at To send condolences to the family, please visit






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