In Memory of




Obituary for Elmer Coyle Norris

Elmer Coyle Norris, 81, of Palmyra, passed away unexpectedly on Sunday, August 1, 2021, at his home, with his loving wife by his side.

Elmer was born in Cromwell Township in Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania on December 2, 1939. He was the son of the late Coyle Edgar and Thelma Odean Dubbs Norris.

He was a proud 1958 graduate of Captain Jack High School in Mount Union. Elmer grew up working at the Huntingdon County Home, which his father managed for years. While in school, Elmer met the love of his life, Mary Margaret Parson. The two were married, and moved to Hershey where they started their careers at the Milton Hershey School.

Elmer began his career at Milton Hershey as a dairyman, which he worked at for two years before starting on his journey as a house parent. For 22 years, Elmer and Mary served as house parents, touching the lives of countless students. Elmer was truly devoted to providing an excellent life to his students no matter what. He taught them how to work hard, and laid the foundation for success in not only their careers, but also their lives.

When Elmer joined Milton Hershey School he worked in building maintenance, but by the time he retired on July 1, 1998, he was a Project Manager. He oversaw the construction of many student homes during his career.

The memories he made at the Milton Hershey School were some of his fondest. While he touched the lives of many, he was equally touched by his students, or “kids” as he’d call them, and the many people he had the opportunity to work with.

When he retired, he took on another full-time job. Being a grandparent. He dedicated many years to watching his grandsons, getting into every adventure imaginable, and doing just about anything for them.

Family and friends were everything to Elmer. He loved nothing more than getting to spend time with his family and friends. Whether he was at a family reunion, visiting friends, or hosting his daily lunch meeting with friends at Jo Jo’s Pizza in Hershey, he was always full of stories. You could always expect the daily phone call asking “What’s new and exciting.”

One of Elmer’s passions was hit and miss gas engines and tractors. He loved taking them to tractor shows and local fairs. Anyone who knew Elmer could attest that he was quite a “collector,” and that his workshop was always filled with parts and pieces. All of his engine friends will miss him saying, “Well, it was running at home” whenever he couldn’t get an engine to start at a fair.

He also was an avid outdoorsman in his younger years. He liked fishing, hunting, and spending time at camp with his friends. Elmer never lost his love for where he came from, and bought a cabin in Shirleysburg where he spent a lot of time.

Elmer was a member of Brownstone Lodge No.666 F&AM, Valley of Harrisburg, A.A.S.R., Zembo Shrine A.A.O.N.M.S., and a lifetime member of the Hershey Shrine Club. He was also a member of the Milton Hershey Alumni Association, and became an honorary alumnus in 2019.

Elmer is survived by his wife of 61 years, Mary Margaret Parson Norris whom he married on March 19, 1960; his son, Brian Jeffrey Norris husband of Kathy Landis of Hummelstown; two grandsons, James Alexander Norris and Patrick Michael Norris both of Hummelstown; three siblings, James “Jim” Howard Norris husband of Diane of Londonderry Village, Janet Louise Stenner wife of William of Delaware, Gloria Jean Myers of Hershey; many nieces and nephews; great-nieces and nephews; and many cousins.

In addition to his parents, Elmer was preceded in death by his daughter-in-law, Jennifer May Motter Norris; and a brother-in-law, Newton Nelson Myers.

The funeral service for Elmer will be held Monday, August 9, 2021, at 11:00am in the Trefz & Bowser Funeral Home, 114 West Main Street, Hummelstown, the Rev. James Hullihen officiating. Viewings will be held, August 8, 2021, from 5 to 7 PM, and Monday, August 9, 2021 from 10am until the time of services in the funeral home. Interment will be in the Gravel Hill Cemetery. Masonic services will be held on Sunday evening in the funeral home at 7PM.

A live stream of Elmer’s service can be viewed by going to and clicking on the green live stream button.

In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions may be made in Elmer’s honor to Sugar Run Church of the Brethren, 17193 Hill Valley Road, Shirleysburg, PA 17260.

Elmer’s family would like to thank everyone who has been a part of his life over the years. While his passing was sudden, he was blessed with great family, friends, and neighbors that shaped his life. You all meant so much to him, and he truly valued every moment you spent together.

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