He was a bright young boy, born in Alabama but raised in New York City’s Bronx borough. He was smart enough to skip two grades but accepted only one and graduated from New York City’s Morris High School in 1975.

Norman Lee Standford, 53, died Sept. 25, 2011, of early onset Alzheimer’s disease. He was a 20-year Air Force veteran who had earned the rank of sergeant. After his 1999 discharge, he worked for Bellsouth’s electronics department until he became ill.

Coworker Gracie Hargett wrote in Norman’s online guest book, “He had a very positive attitude and an endearing personality. He had great work ethic, too.”

Norman learned civil engineering in service, but electronics was his first love. When an opening occurred in electronics, although he’d had no real training, he scored 97 percent on the test without ever opening a book.

“He could do about anything,” Nadine said.

Norman was stationed at old Pease Air Force Base in Portsmouth, N.H., when he saw Nadine Robinson at the base movie house.

“Our eyes met and he cocked his head,” Nadine recalled.

Both were intrigued. They met later through a connection of Nadine’s girlfriend, who knew Norman’s supervisor.

It took a while for Norman and Nadine to really connect, but he spent that Thanksgiving with her family. His mom later told Nadine that she must be something special, because Norman always came home for the holidays.

She was special, all right. She was the first girl he took home for Christmas, and there, in his family’s midst, he proposed to her. They married January 7, 1977 and she joined him in Air Force service in 1980. Sons Tijuan and Tischaun followed, and Nadine’s mom helped care for the boys when necessary.

Nadine was stricken with Devic’s syndrome, a nerve disorder of the spine and eyes. It is often fatal and always impairs its victim. When her illness confined Nadine to a wheelchair, she offered Norman an out. He didn’t take it.

“I told him I’d understand, that I’d go home with Mom,” Nadine said. He told me, ‘No, we’ll get through this together.’ He never left my side, he was my rock, a most loving husband.”

His dad had the opportunity to leave, son Tischaun said. “A lot of men would have left, but he stuck by her side. He was inspiring, a great role model of what a man should be.”

Norman coached his sons when they played basketball and shared a love of cars with them. He got Tischaun’s first car, a white and maroon ’81 Olds Cutlass Supreme, and gave Tijuan a white ’81 Mercury Topaz.

“He loved old cars,” Tijuan said of his dad’s huge gas-guzzlers. “His favorites were a 1975 Ford LTD and a 1978 Olds Coronado. He took me on junkyard trips with him. His other hobbies were handyman stuff — he liked to fix things around the house.”

Both sons agreed that their dad was military, through and through. “It was ‘yes, sir’ and ‘no, sir,’” Tischaun said. “He was the quiet, strong type, but once he got to know you he opened up and the goofy side came out.”

Fellow BellSouth workers Tim Kiser, Richard Robbins and Roy Pickett noted Norman’s fun side in the guest book. “He made me laugh each and every day,” Tim wrote.

“He kept everyone around him in a good mood by making them laugh,” wrote Richard. “He kept everyone in a good mood and could make us laugh. We miss seeing his land-yacht cruising the parking lot.”

You can be sure that Norman’s goofy side, as well as his strong, quiet, loyal qualities will be missed, too.

Editor’s note: This is our series called Lives That Matter. Written by Charlotte writer Gerry Hostetler, this weekly feature will profile individuals, recently deceased, who had a positive impact on those around them. Email editor@qcitymetro.com.

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