Clarence “Sonny” Norrell was born April 24, 1926 in
Corpus Christi, Texas. Norrell attended Corpus Christi High
School where he was a four year letter winner in football.
Upon graduation from High School he served in the United States
Navy on the light cruiser, USS Miami in the Pacific. Norrell
found his way back to Corpus Christi attending Del Mar College from
1946-1947 before enrolling in the University of Corpus Christi
(UCC) in the Fall of 1947. While he only played during the
1948 season for the UCC Tarpons he was a trusted and well respected
teammate. He graduated in the second class of UCC in January
Norrell began a distinguished teaching career in 1950,
which would span an amazing 50 years! His first teaching
position was as a first grade teacher at West Oso ISD here in
Corpus Christi. A couple years later he began coaching and
would lead both the West Oso Football and Track and Field teams
from 1952-1953. It should be noted that both Norrell and Pete
Blunzer taught first grade at West Oso after serving at starting
offensive tackles on the gridiron. After 4 years at West Oso,
Norrell accepted a position with the London ISD on the outskirts of
Corpus Christi where he taught 7th and 8th
grade while coaching basketball. In the Fall of 1956 he began
working for Sundeen Independent School District and the school was
at the corner of Airline and South Padre Island Drive today.
He taught History and Speech and coached football. The
Sundeen School District consolidated with Corpus Christi
Independent School District in 1959. Norrell’s teaching
and coaching career came full circle in 1959 when he accepted a
teaching position in the College of Education at UCC as well as a
position on the football coaching staff. After four years of
coaching, he elected to focus solely on his teaching career.
The dedication to his profession was no more evident than the
sacrifice he made to complete his Phd. From 1966 through 1968
he commuted back and forth to East Texas State University in
Commerce, Texas while teaching a full load of education classes at
UCC. He credits then University president, Kenneth Maroney
who allowed him to teach at UCC Tuesday through Thursday and then
he would drive to Commerce and work Friday through Monday until he
earned his Phd. in 1968.
Norrell would officially retire in 2000 with the title
professor emeritus having impacted the lives of hundreds of
students over a career in education which spanned 50 years.
One area that he was especially proud of was the institutions he
put in place for teachers of migrant children. A close friend
said, “It was a labor of love for Sonny, love for the
institution and the teams. He was indeed in the business of
building good character and teaching teamwork. He was one of
the essential building blocks in the foundation of what is now
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. There is no one our
University could look upon with greater pride than this stalwart
builder of our great alma mater.” In addition to his
academic accolades, Norrell is in the Miller High School Athletic
Hall of Fame.
It should come as no surprise that both of his son’s, Rick
and Ron, followed his professional footsteps in education.
Norrell and his wife Jane are enjoying their retirement years in