Dignitaries from around the state, led by Gov. Larry Hogan, paid final respects to Harford County State Sen. H. Wayne Norman Jr., who died in his sleep March 4 at age 62.
The funeral service for the popular senator from Bel Air was held Friday morning at Mountain Christian Church New Life Center in Joppa
A steady stream of folks made their way into the New Life Center, some stopping in front of the building to share a hug and a quick hello or greeting each other as they quickly crossed the parking lot in the chilling wind making their way to the building to celebrate the life of Sen. Norman.
Two motor coach buses brought in a host of legislators from Annapolis, including Harford County Dels. Ann Lisanti, Glen Glass, Rick Impallaria and Kathy Szeliga, and Sen. Minority Leader J.B. Jennings.
In addition to Hogan, Senate President Thomas “Mike” Miller and House of Delegates Speaker Michael Busch attended the funeral, as did Maj. Gen. Randy Taylor, senior commander at Aberdeen Proving Ground.
The rumbling sound of the motorcycle escort echoed off the building as it entered the church lot, and a police guard stood at attention saluting as the hearse arrived.
The officers held their stance as the casket, draped with a Maryland flag, was taken inside the building by pallbearers for the funeral service.
“I consider him an old-school American,” said Taylor, as he paused outside prior to the service. “He was a joy to be around, always valued public service, he really walked the walk. He was a committed public servant and a committed supporter of Aberdeen Proving Ground. So we’re here to honor his service and his life and pay respects to his family. He will be deeply missed.”
“Wayne Norman was a good friend of mine. I will basically sum up everything about him in one word, ‘kindness,’” Cecil County Executive Alan McCarthy said. “He was a true gentleman and he will be sorely missed by Cecil County, Harford County and the state of Maryland.”
“What a sad day, we already miss him,” Szeliga said. “He was a funny, real authentic man who cared deeply about Harford County. A man who just loved the community, the people and what he did, it’s a very sad day for the whole state of Maryland and especially Harford County.”
“A great man, more importantly a great family man,” Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said. “Senator Norman spearheaded the Hero’s Highway bill when we lost our deputies Pat [Dailey] and Mark [Logsdon] in 2016. He and his family were there for us in our time of need and we’re there for him today and most importantly for his family.”
“He was a great senator to work with and he was certainly a champion for his constituents and a great friend of law enforcement,” Cecil County Sheriff Scott Adams said.
Adams shared a funny story about Sen. Norman from a recent chili cook-off they both attended.
“He sat next to me… everybody who came through the line to try the chili Wayne’s comment was, ‘you have to try the sheriff’s chili, it’s arresting,’ and that was Wayne; it’s a great loss,” Adams said.
Harford County Executive Barry Glassman also paused outside the New Life Center and took a moment to speak about his friend.
“Of course everyone knows how jovial he was and always in a positive good mood so he was easy to work with,” Glassman said. “We worked together for a number of years and he always had a good spirit about him. Wayne always kind of looked to the positive side and certainly was a great representative for Harford County. We can’t say enough for what he’s done for us.”
The governor spoke during one-hour service, as did Joe Tunney, a longtime friend of the senator, and Jim Owens, Sen. Norman’s brother-in-law.
Scripture readings were provided by Jim Reilly, clerk of the circuit court for Harford County and another long-time friend of the senator, and by Joe Norman, the senator’s godson and nephew.
The Rev. Jim Vaught, a cousin, presided at the service. The Rev. Ben Cachiaras, lead pastor at Mountain Christian, gave welcoming remarks.
Scott Sauers provided music for the service. Pallbearers were members of Sen. Norman’s family, including his son-in-law Brian Sicher; nephew Jason Maeser; godson and nephew Joe Norman; nephew Chris Norman; nephew Matt Hellmann; nephew Pat Schaefer; nephew Sam Owens; godson and nephew Josh Meoli; and nephew Alex Meoli.
Following the service, the police honor guards and many who attended stood in the parking lot forming a gauntlet as the flag draped casket was escorted to a waiting 1949 Ford Maryland State Police truck to be taken to the Bel Air Memorial Gardens, where the senator was laid to rest.
“During this difficult time it is important to know that we are not and never will be alone. It is comforting to know that someone who meant the world to us also meant the world to you. You have warmed our hearts and lifted our spirits. May God bless each of you,” read a statement from the Norman family printed on the back of the funeral service program.
Sen. Norman was a practicing attorney in Bel Air. He served in the Maryland House of Delegates from January 2008 until Jan. 15, when he joined the Maryland State Senate, where he represented the 35th Legislative District that includes northern Harford County and northern and western Cecil County.
Survivors include his wife, Linda; a son, H. Wayne “Chip” Norman; a daughter, Ashley Sicher of Newark, Ohio; a brother, Stephen Norman of Street; two sisters, Amy Owens of Forest Hill and Emily Meoli of Towson; and a granddaughter.
He had a passion for trains, MG automobiles and camping with his family, according to the funeral program.
Contributions may be made to The Arc of Northern Chesapeake Region, 4513 Philadelphia Road, Aberdeen, Md., 21001.