There are those rare people who quietly and consistently make the world a better place by what they do and how they do it.
They don’t do it for the glory, but because it is the right thing to do. We say they do it out of the goodness of their heart.
Norman Sosebee was one of those people. Mr. Sosebee was someone who was always there with me in church and in the community my entire life. He was a constant.
His personality was almost larger than life. He always left us smiling, whether it was with a joke or just a word of encouragement.
When I was a child growing up and attended First Baptist Church in the old building on Elizabeth Street, his family’s funeral home was next door. The Sosebee family was as much a part of the church as the pastor and his family, who lived on the other side of the church in the parsonage.
Norman was the teacher every kid wanted in Sunday School. Whatever youth group he was involved in became the place to be. My sister describes him as someone who was just so much fun. He got the children excited about coming to church, rather than nagging them to come. They wanted to be there.
One of his ways of encouragement was something he called “Kid for A Day.” If you had perfect Sunday School attendance for a year, Mr. Sosebee would take those kids on an outing to an amusement park or other fun destination in the Atlanta area. Very few achieved that designation, but for those who did it was a memorable experience.
While Mr. Sosebee was the most popular youth leader of my growing-up days, that is just a small example of what he did for the community.
In 1940, at the age of 14, Norman moved to Canton when his father, George Sosebee opened his funeral home. I am sure as a teenager attending Canton High School, he was just as much fun as he was in later years.
After graduating from Canton High in 1944 with the world engulfed in war, he entered the military service and headed to Europe. He served in the U.S. Army infantry, 75th Division, where he fought in the final days of World War II in the Battle of the Bulge.
Following the end of World War II, he served as a telegraph operator in the army of occupation, before returning home and attending North Georgia College.
In January 1948, he married Frances Davis, who I believe was his high school sweetheart. Together they made one of the loveliest couples I remember.
Eventually Norman took over the funeral home from his father and moved it to its present location on Jarvis Street.
Norman was elected the Cherokee County Coroner in 1964, an office he would hold for the next 28 years. Those were changing times in Cherokee County. Mr. Sosebee also operated the Emergency Ambulance Service for Cherokee County for a number of years before it became a county function.
I have a photo of Mr. Sosebee from 1962 alongside Dr. Grady Coker at Coker Hospital with a new mother and baby Norman was ready to drive home in his ambulance.
Many knew Mr. Sosebee from his love of flying. He was an avid aviation enthusiast and got his pilot license in 1966. He and Frances secured land adjoining the airport in 1981 and built a home and hangar adjacent to the runway.
If I remember correctly, he could just leave his house in his airport and head for the skies. I remember attending some parties there with my family.
Mr. Sosebee also served on the Cherokee County Airport Authority for 30 years, serving as secretary for portions of that time.
Many remember him as a collector of World War II memorabilia and historical artifacts of Cherokee County, much of which is proudly displayed throughout the lounge area at Sosebee Funeral Home. He was also a founding member of the Cherokee County Historical Society.
Norman was a proud veteran, a member and past president of the 75th Infantry Division Veterans Association and of the American Legion Thomas M. Brady Post 45 Canton,
He was the recipient of the Lamar Haley Award for Community Service and the 41st Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce First Citizen Award, for his lifetime of service.
Mr. Sosebee departed this week from Sosebee Funeral Home to be carried to his fitting final resting place at the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton.
For the last 20 years, I attended Heritage Baptist Fellowship with Mr. Sosebee and his family. This last year has been hard on all of us because we have not met in person. Prior to that, he sat on the pew in front of us each Sunday.
He always had a ready smile and handshake, and a laugh to share. I will miss him so much, as I know many will.
He was a true community treasure.