Harford state Sen. Wayne Norman, described as a 'good man,' dies Sunday

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H. Wayne Norman Jr., one of Harford County’s three state senators, died Sunday, according to an announcement from the county executive’s office.

“On behalf of the family of state Senator H. Wayne Norman Jr., I am deeply saddened to announce that Sen. Norman passed away at his home earlier today,” Harford County Executive Barry Glassman, a former state senator, said in a statement Sunday afternoon.

“In honor of his devoted service to our community, I will be ordering the Harford County flag lowered to half-staff until the day of interment,” Glassman stated.

A cause of death had not been released as of Monday afternoon. The Harford County Sheriff’s Office was called to the Norman home in the 1300 block of Sweetbriar Lane in Bel Air at 11:21 a.m. Sunday, but “no foul play is suspected,” according to Sheriff’s Office spokesperson Cristie Kahler.

Sen. Norman, 62, a Bel Air attorney, represented Legislative District 35, which covers northern and central Harford County and western and northern Cecil County.

The Republican legislator served in the House of Delegates from 2008 to 2015. He was elected to the Senate in 2014 and had been running for a second term this year.

His colleague in the Senate, Republican Harford Sen. J.B. Jennings, described Sen. Norman’s passing as “sudden, shocking and devastating to his family and to everybody in Harford County, because he really was a good guy.”

Jennings, who represents western Harford and eastern Baltimore County in District 7, said he last saw Sen. Norman Friday on the Senate floor.

“So tomorrow it’s going to be pretty rough walking back into the chamber,” Jennings said Sunday.

Jennings said Sen. Norman “was not a political person,” that he focused on the issues facing his constituents and how his votes would affect “the voters, the people, the citizens.”

He said Sen. Norman embodied what people want to see in an elected official, “somebody who does something for the right reasons.”

“He always had a smile on his face, he always was chipper to see everybody, and he just got along with everybody — he was one of the good guys,” Jennings said.

Sen. Norman, a former member of the Harford County Planning Advisory Board and the county’s Liquor Control Board, was appointed to the House in January 2008 to fill Glassman’s seat, when Glassman was appointed to fill the term of the late Harford County Sen. J. Robert Hooper, who resigned from the legislature in late 2007 and died of cancer Jan. 24, 2008.

Glassman was elected to a full term in the Senate in 2010, and Sen. Norman to a full House term that same year.

Glassman described Sen. Norman, whom he had known since the mid-1980s, as “a great family man,” with a great sense of humor and “very jovial.”

“I was always proud that he took my delegate’s seat and I was just as proud of the job he did as senator for the northern part of Harford County,” Glassman said Sunday afternoon.

He said Sen. Norman had been an advocate for people with disabilities and the business community.

Jennings recalled that Sen. Norman encouraged his colleagues to give one of the many coffee mugs they receive as gifts to a group of children with special needs when they visited the legislature, which he said the children thought was “the greatest thing in the world,” making their day, month, possibly their year.

“He was an accomplished lawyer, businessman and public servant,” Glassman said. “I think he achieved a lot in his lifetime, a lot for the county to be proud of.”

Del. Teresa Reilly, the head of Harford County’s House delegation and Sen. Norman’s former legislative aide in the House, fought back tears Sunday as she talked about a man who had been her boss, mentor, colleague and friend.

“Everyone respected him; he was a personable guy and just shared a lot of love and a lot of wisdom,” said Reilly, a Republican who was elected to House Subdistrict 35B in 2014. “It’s a huge loss, my heart is broken and I’m sure a lot of others are as well.”

Harford County Sheriff Jeffrey Gahler said it is “hard to believe and hard to accept” the news of Sen. Norman’s passing.

“He was a titan of public service in Harford County – at the top of the list of our most respected elected officials. I was filled with a tremendous sense of loss when I learned of his passing this morning. He was strong, honest, funny, whip-smart, full of integrity, fearless and a great supporter of law enforcement,” Gahler said on a post on the Sheriff’s Office Facebook page. “His leadership will truly be missed. Harford County and Maryland are fortunate to have been served by a leader of his magnitude. My thoughts and prayers are with Linda, Chip, Ashley and the entire Norman family."

Gov. Larry Hogan on Sunday ordered Maryland flags to be flown at half staff in Sen. Norman’s honor:

“The First Lady and I are deeply saddened to learn of the passing of such a distinguished public servant, husband and father. Our hearts go out to Senator Norman’s wife, Linda, their two children, and granddaughter,” Hogan said in a statement. “Senator Norman devoted decades of his life to serving his constituents in Harford and Cecil counties, first at the local level, and then as a delegate and senator. His important and dedicated work on the Judicial Proceedings and Ethics Committees will not be soon forgotten, nor will his steadfast advocacy on behalf of rural Marylanders and our veterans.

“I know I am joined by the entire General Assembly and all state officials in praying for Senator Norman’s family and friends as we honor his life and service,” Hogan said.

Sen. Norman was the senior Republican member of the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee. The committee chairman, Democratic Sen. Bobby Zirkin, of Baltimore County’s District 11, praised Sen. Norman’s efforts to work across party lines, passion for his work, his compassion for all and his “tremendously large heart.”

“It took anybody about 10 seconds to see how great of a person he was,” Zirkin said Sunday.

He said Sen. Norman wanted to be on Judicial Proceedings, which handles “some of the most intense and emotional parts of the law,” and that he knew he wanted Sen. Norman on the committee, too, about five minutes after they met.

“He had decades of experience as a lawyer,” Zirkin, who is also an attorney, said. “He brought that experience to the Senate, to everything he did.”

Zirkin praised Sen. Norman’s efforts to ensure every witness who testified before the committee “felt like they got a fair shake,” and his efforts to leave partisan politics at the door.

“He and I shared a passion and a belief that you leave that at the door,” Zirkin said. “You just work on the law, you work on what’s best for the people and not worry about the politics.”

Reilly said Sen. Norman is survived by his wife, Linda, son, Chip Norman, daughter, Ashley Sicher, son-in-law, Brian Sicher and their daughter, Adaline.

“I know that his family is going to need everybody’s prayers,” Reilly said.

His law firm, H. Wayne Norman Jr. P.A., is in downtown Bel Air. His family lives just outside town, according to Reilly.

Funeral arrangements are pending at McComas Funeral Homes, according to Glassman’s statement.

This story is updated from an earlier version.

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