LAMOINE/NAPLES, FLA. – The Honorable Chester Edward Norris Jr. of Lamoine and Naples, Fla., died Tuesday, Nov. 15, in Naples, Fla., following a brief illness.
Chet was born Dec. 1, 1927, in Bangor, one of four children to Chester Edward Sr. and Pauline Morse Norris, and raised in a home on the Penobscot River in Winterport that was alleged to once have been a part of the Underground Railroad. His early education started there, continued in St. Petersburg, Fla., and resumed in Maine, where he, with his siblings, attended a one-room schoolhouse at Great Pond Plantation 33. He graduated from Winterport High School and he attended the Maine Maritime Academy in 1945. He was a graduate of the University of Maine at Orono, where he was later awarded with UMO’s Stillwater Society Award.
Early in his life, he worked alongside his brother, father and uncle in their family-owned-and-operated businesses, to include car dealerships, real estate holdings, a small public utility and a construction company. He was, concurrently, a master Mason and a licensed securities analyst and stockbroker.
Through an introduction by and at the suggestion of Maine Sen. Margaret Chase Smith, he joined the U.S. Foreign Service in 1965 and eventually had postings in Tel-Aviv, Israel, where he met his future wife, Ulla; Sydney, Australia; London, England; Jeddah, Saudi Arabia; Lagos, Nigeria and the U.S. Mission to the United Nations in New York. Twice he was the recipient of the Department of State’s Superior Honor Award. He was also selected to attend the National War College in Washington, D.C., 1975-76.
In his career highlight as a Foreign Service Officer, he was Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary to the Republic of Equatorial Guinea under President Ronald Reagan, presenting his credentials in March of 1988, and continuing service at the pleasure of President George H.W. Bush. His tenure there saw the first contracts negotiated between American energy interests and the government of Equatorial Guinea, starting a process that would transform one of the poorest countries in Africa into a major gas and oil producer. After retiring from the foreign service, Chet was approached by Houston-based Walter International to represent them as a consultant in Equatorial Guinea. He eventually worked for a succession of oil companies, such as CMS Nomeco and Marathon Oil. In recognition of his contributions to the energy industry, a methanol tanker was dedicated The Ambassador Norris in 2000 in the town of Beppu, Japan.
Chet was a firm believer in, and supporter of, the works of the Maine Sea Coast Mission, Bar Harbor, and served on its board for many years. He was a member of The Pot and Kettle Club, Bar Harbor; The Causeway Club, Southwest Harbor; The Forum Club of Southwest Florida; the Hole-in-the-Wall Golf Club, Naples, Fla.; and DACOR (Diplomatic and Consular Officers, Retired) Bacon House of Washington, D.C. In Bangor, he was a co-founder of Penobscot Associates, an investment club that is still going strong more than 50 years later. In Naples, he enjoyed his Thursday luncheon get-togethers with friends with ties to New England.
A man of great wit and humor, he regaled family and friends (more often than not in colorful language) with reminiscences of early family life in Maine and adventures abroad, such as driving a motor home from Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, to Athens, Greece, with his wife and a good friend.
Chet was kind and caring, a man true to himself. Although he traveled the world, he found most joy in his time spent at his home on the coast of Maine watching the deer and eagles in the company of his wife, Ulla, and his two little dogs, Molly and Brio.
He is survived by his wife, Ulla Helena Raberg Norris; brother John Morse Norris (Nancy) of Carabassett Valley; sister Bertha Norris Holmes of Portland, Maine; mother-in-law, Gun Raberg, brothers-in-law Staffan Raberg and Urban Raberg, Sweden; nieces Cinderella Norris of Rockport; Bethany Holmes Frank (Lanier) of Washington, D.C.; Betsy Loughin Greenlaw of Portland, Maine; Heather Holmes Floyd (Bill) of Waban, Mass.; Sarah Loughin Sotomayor of Portland, Maine; Kerstin Ljung, Sweden; nephews John Guynn Norris of Carabassett Valley; Heath Kevin Norris of Phuket, Thailand; Bjorn Ljung, Alex Raberg, Ville Raberg; great-nephews Shepherd Adams Frank of Glenwood, Md.; Robert Thomas Greenlaw II of Portland, Maine; William Henry Floyd IV; Herbert Norris Douglass Floyd of Waban, Mass.; and great-nieces Sarah Alicia Sharpe of Denver, Colo.; Hannah Holmes Floyd of Boston, Mass.; Campbell Lanier Frank of Washington, D.C.; Siri Johanna Norris of Red Hook, N.Y. He was predeceased by his sibling Bettsanne Norris Holmes in 2015, and by his nephew Paul Raymond Loughin III in 1989.
A private family memorial service and celebration of his life will be held this summer in Maine, and his interment at the Norris family mausoleum in Pine Tree Cemetery (Lamoine) will be held at a later date.
In lieu of flowers, the family requests that any donations be made in Chester Norris’s name to the Maine Sea Coast Mission, Bar Harbor, and/or the SPCA of Hancock County, Trenton.