Davie, FLA -- The body of murder victim William Norman was to be shipped today to his native Maryland, where former students and colleagues remembered him as a beloved high school principal with the Anne Arundel County public schools.

Scholarship funds in Norman's name are being set up, and plans are underway for memorial ceremonies, according to former student Kimberly Smith.

"He was a gentle giant," said Smith, who attended Chesapeake High School in Pasadena in the early 1980s when Norman was principal. "We were in awe of him. You could not help but smile when you saw him."

In a statement, Norman's wife Ellen said, "The family of William Norman is saddened and shocked to learn of Bill's tragic passing and will miss him deeply. The Norman family have confidence that the appropriate authorities are doing everything possible to bring to justice those who are criminally responsible and believe that justice will be served.

Norman, 76, was found floating in a Davie canal July 5 with a plastic bag tied over his head.

David Weintraub of Tamarac and Andarly Desir of Lauderhill, both 19, were charged with premeditated homicide. Police said they confessed to beating Norman in a Tamarac house he rented to Weintraub.

The men told police that after killing Norman, they wrapped his body in a blanket and a piece of carpet and dumped it into the canal in the 1400 block of Southwest 121 Avenue. Police said the pair planned to use Norman's credit cards to loot his bank account.

Weintraub and Desir are being held without bond in the Broward County jail.

Norman, who lived in Tampa, was much admired in the Anne Arundel County public schools, where he served for 28 years as a teacher, administrator and school board official. He joined the school system as a high school business teacher in 1961, and became the first principal of the new Chesapeake High School when it opened in 1976.

"He was always talking and mentoring his students, taking the time to stop and say hello. He knew almost everyone by name," said Cathy Jones, a 1979 graduate.

She said the news of Norman's murder has stunned many who knew him. "We are all having a tough time wrapping our hands and head around this heinous crime," said Jones, a nurse. "Someone who gave of himself so freely, to be treated in such a manner is horrendous."

When Norman left Chesapeake High in 1983 to serve as school board director of fiscal services, students voted to name the school auditorium in his honor. His picture still hangs next to the entrance.

Norman moved to the Tampa area after his retirement in 1989. He was active in the Spirit of Life Metropolitan Community Church in New Port Richey and the ManKind Project, an international men's organization.

"This is really tragic news, [and it] has me and many other people stunned and sick," Allan Swett, a friend from the ManKind Project, said in an email.

No funeral or memorial services have been announced.

mwclary@tribune.com, 954-356-4465