Norman Ray Childs
August 25, 1940 – May 29, 2020
Norman Ray Childs of Junction City, Kansas, passed away at a hospital in Kansas City, Kansas on May 29, 2020. He was 79 years old, but had been suffering from congestive heart and lung failure for about three months. Despite the restrictions imposed by the COVID 19 pandemic, at the end, his wife and sons were able to be near him.
Norm was born on August 25, 1940, in the small town of Price, Utah. His parents, Luther Dee and Venola (Hansen) Childs also had a daughter, Marie, who was two.
When Norm was two years old his young father died unexpectedly, and Norm was raised by Horace Bone, who became his stepfather when his mother remarried. Norm grew up and attended schools in Lehi, Utah, graduating from Lehi High School in 1958. Norm’s great love during these years was sports, and he played both football and baseball on the high school and community teams. His second love was the army, and he joined the Utah National Guard when he was 17 and a senior in high school.
After his six-month Army basic training, Norm returned to Utah where he pursued an athletic scholarship and played varsity football at the College of Southern Utah (now Southern Utah University) in Cedar City. It was here that he met Gaylynn Sherratt, a theater major, who would later become his wife. Cast opposite each other in “Taming of the Shrew,” they helped launch the now-famous Utah Shakespeare Festival in the summer of 1962. In the process they fell in love and were married on November 10, 1962, in Cedar City.
Another football scholarship to the University of Utah moved the newlyweds, to Salt Lake City. After a semester as struggling students, as Norm liked to tell it: “Gay got pregnant, I got scared, and so we joined the Army.”
What followed was a 20-year career in the United States Army that saw three separate tours in Viet Nam, where as a Green Beret and later a company commander in the First Cavalry Division he earned a Silver Star and two Bronze Stars for gallantry, a Purple Heart, and other decorations. Between these tours he attended OCS at Fort Benning, and was commissioned In June of 1966. After Viet Nam, an assignment as the military advisor to the 19th Special Forces Group took him to Missoula, Montana. While there, he was able to complete his oft-interrupted college education and he received a BA in History from the University of Montana in 1974. An assignment to the 1st ID brought the family to Kansas later that year. This was followed by a four-year stint with the 8th Infantry Division in Germany. The family returned to Fort Riley in 1981 to conclude Norm’s active duty. He retired in November of 1982.
During these years in the Army, Norm and Gaylynn’s family expanded to include two sons: Eric born in 1962; Dane, born while he was in Viet Nam in 1967; and a baby daughter, Andrea, who died five days after birth in 1976.
After his military retirement, Norm spent 8 years as the director of the Geary County Convention and Visitor’s Bureau in Junction City. He moved to a similar position in Pueblo, Colorado, for two years, and then returned to Junction City where he worked for a time in sales for KQLA and KJCK radio. In 1996 he became the director of the Junction City branch of Cloud County Community College, and was at the helm during the construction of CCCC’s Junction City Campus. He retired at the end of 2000. In recent years, to keep himself young and in touch, he enjoyed substitute-teaching at the high school and middle schools for USD #475.
Norm was a great supporter and advocate for his community. He was friendly and generous and loved to serve others. He worked on the Sundown Salute Committee for years, starting the parade that became be a highlight of that celebration. He was a member of the Geary County Historical Society and as the chair of the “Finance Committee” spearheaded the raising of fund to complete the museum. He was much involved in the effort to save the First Territorial Capitol site at Fort Riley, and served for 6 years as president of the “Partners of the FTC” friends group. He supported the fund-raising for and erection of the Buffalo Soldier Monument. He was a friend of the Opera House and helped to see it restored. As a generous supporter of the Community Band and the Junction City Little Theater, he always enjoyed their concerts and productions, maintaining they enriched life here for everyone. And he was especially proud when he got to see his children, grandchildren, and recently, great grandchildren perform in these shows.
As a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints from his youth, Norm held numerous positions and served in various capacities from Scoutmaster to Branch President over the years. A special achievement for him came in 2014-2015, when he and Gaylynn, were able to serve a Church mission in Western New York, where they worked with visitors and VIP’s who came to the LDS historic sites in that area. Most recently, the couple have been able to serve as “Ordinance Workers” in the Kansas City Temple for the past four years.
Norm Childs made friends wherever he went. He loved people and he enjoyed getting to know everyone he came in contact with. His “gift of gab” sometimes got him in trouble, but his warm and fun personality drew people to him and he was happiest when he had company.
Norm is survived by his wife of 57 years, Gaylynn, of the home; sons: Eric and wife, Melissa, of Junction City and Dane and wife, Janette, of Basehor, Kansas; his sister, Marie Wagstaff, of Lehi, Utah; a half-brother, Duane Jones, of Elmo, Utah; nine grandchildren and eight great grandchildren.
A funeral will be held for Norm Childs at 10 a.m. on June 11, 2020, at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on McFarland Road in Junction City, where there is plenty of room for “social distancing.” A viewing at the church prior to the service will be held from 9 to 10 a.m. Burial with military honors will occur at the Kansas Veteran’s Cemetery following the service.
Memorial contributions can sent to the Missionary Fund, care of Bishop Stuart Wells, JC 2nd Ward, 335 West Chestnut, Junction City, Kansas 66441.