When Barbara N. Duerk and her family ventured outside of their hometown of Pikeville, her father Columbus E. “Buster” Norris (42) would sometimes drive to the MSU campus. For Norris, just the sight of the place was enough to get him talking.
“My dad would talk about how Morehead State allowed him to get an education and see beyond where he lived and discover a world beyond ‘right here,’” Duerk said.
Norris came to MSU on a football scholarship and after graduation was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Navy, serving as a pilot during World War II. After being honorably discharged in 1946, he owned and operated Howell’s Motor Freight, Inc. in Roanoke, Virginia, with his wife Betty Grubb Norris. The family continues to operate this multi-million dollar trucking firm today.
Norris was inducted into the MSU Alumni Hall of Fame in 1984. After his induction, he and Betty established the C.E. “Buster” Norris Scholarship Endowment by donating $35,000 in 1985. At the time, it was the largest cash donation received by MSU Athletics.
The scholarship supports members of the MSU Football team. Mr. Norris passed away in 1992 at the age of 72.
After Norris passed, Betty strived to continue to honor his love for MSU. She made annual gifts to the scholarship endowment to continue to grow the fund. She and her children often attended MSU football games and met student-athletes who were helped by the scholarship. Mrs. Norris passed away in December 2017. At the time of her passing, the scholarship endowment was valued at over $100,000.
Duerk said her father was always one who wanted to make other people’s lives a little better. “Sometimes, it was with time. Sometimes, it was with money. Other times, he didn’t tell people what he did. It was later when we would receive letters saying ‘thank you,’” Duerk said. “He was fortunate to have people that contributed to help him, so he always reached out to help other people to return the generosity.”
The financial assistance provided by the C. E. “Buster” Norris Scholarship Endowment fund embodies this proud Eagle’s legacy and shows that his character was more valuable than his success.