One might say Fred Norris has been the ultimate pitchman for the Tri-Cities, supporting numerous organizations and causes with fundraising and volunteer efforts in addition to serving as mayor of St. Charles for 20 years.
He was instrumental in getting TriCity Family Services off the ground in the late 1960s, and his efforts to help citizens of the region has not faltered since.
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Norris has a long list of organizations he has headed or been part of, and numerous civic honors to show for it.
TriCity Family Services added one more Thursday night in honoring Norris with the 29th annual William D. Barth Award for community service.
"It's we, us, together and always a team effort when volunteering," Norris said after his son, Fred Norris Jr., presented him with the award. "I encourage everyone to get involved in their community, and they will never be dissatisfied."
Norris, who spends part of each year in Florida during his retirement but most of it in St. Charles, was "tricked" by TriCity Family Services officials into attending the event.
They made him believe his brother, Lee Norris, was receiving the award. And he was glad he fell for it.
"The real privilege to this is having worked with so many people who have won this award in the past," Norris said. "It's actually the second time I have received the Barth Award, as I had to accept it for Russ Forkins (in 1990) because he was ill and could not attend.
"That time was a lot easier than this time," he said.
Known as a man who can give any worthy referendum proposal a significant boost, Norris couldn't help but make a pitch for his latest cause, Kane Cares, an organization to aid developmentally disabled.
"You'll be hearing me talk about that one a lot now," he said.
Norris, a lifelong resident of St. Charles, served the city since the late 1960s, first as an alderman, then as mayor for 20 years, before stepping down in 1997.
He held leadership roles with the St. Charles Jaycees, the Illinois Jaycees, the Fox Valley Shrine Club, Cotillion Club of Fox Valley, the American Management Association, Baker United Methodist Church Men's Club, St. Charles Family Counseling, the PTO of the Shelby School, St. Charles Park Foundation, St. Charles Kiwanis Golden K, the Ambassador's Club for the St. Charles Chamber of Commerce and several others.
In addition, he has more than 65 years in active Scouting, 20 of those as a member of the executive board of the local Three Fires Council.
In 1969, as president of St. Charles Family Counseling, Norris approached fellow Alderman John Barrett, who headed the Tri-Cities Youth Group.
"We were approaching the same people for money and hiring therapists from Elgin, and I just told him that we really should wrap the two efforts together," Norris said. "He agreed, and we made it into the start of what would become TriCity Family Services."