Mary Lee Lawrence Norris
Mary Lee Lawrence Norris, 91, passed gently into the arms of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ on February 18, 2023 in Hobbs. She was born October 11, 1931 in Lamesa, TX to Walter and Emma Lawrence. In 1944, at the age of 12, her parents purchased their first ranch in Lea County, and the family moved from Lamesa to Knowles, NM to the Boone Hardin Ranch. During her childhood, Mary Lee enjoyed breaking and training horses, barrel racing, clearing and breaking out farm land, milking cows and raising Hereford cattle. Mary Lee graduated from Hobbs High School in 1950, where she was voted “Most Likely to Succeed.” She attended Howard Payne College before transferring to Texas Tech University where she met Kenneth Norris. After marrying, the couple moved back to Knowles and started ranching, farming and raising their family.
Mary Lee was involved in many civic organizations and was a founding member of Bethel Baptist Church. She taught Sunday school and Vacation Bible School most of her adult life. She can be credited for guiding numerous children in accepting Christ as their Savior. Mary Lee loved music, and always sang in the choir. She knew the words to most all the hymns and loved to sing to her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Mary Lee was a charter member of Triangle Extension Club and served in local and statewide offices. She also was a charter member of the Cactus Cowbells of Lea County, where she served two terms as president, and continued to play a vital role in designing and producing the annual quilt that was raffled for the organization during the Lea County Fair and Rodeo. Her active participation earned her “Cowbell of the Year.” She donated much of her time to other community organizations, such as the New Mexico Boys and Girls Ranch, 4-H organizations and Future Farmers of America. In 1998, Mary Lee was named a Lea County Pioneer for the Lea County Fair. Mary Lee served as Democratic chairman of Knowles Precinct 21 where she volunteered as an election judge for many years. She was a member of the New Mexico Cattle Growers Association, Farm and Livestock Bureau, and a lifetime member of the American Quarter Horse Association. She was also actively involved in the Lea County Cowboy Hall of Fame and Great Expectations Stock Club. Mary Lee remained an active rancher, farmer, mom, grandma, and great-grandma to the end.
Mary Lee was preceded in death by her parents, Walter and Emma Lawrence, a grandson, John Ross Norris, and one sister, Lugene Parker Howry. Left to cherish her memory are her four children, Kenneth Norris, Jr. (Brenda) of Sumner, TX, Walter “Bubba” Norris (Penny) of Knowles, NM, Emily Wilson (Tracy Keirsey) of Knowles, NM, and John Norris (Rhonda) of Lovington, NM. Mary Lee was blessed with seven grandchildren and fourteen great-grandchildren: Kenneth Norris III and sons, Kenneth and Zach of Hobbs, NM; Jeremiah (Bertha) and children, Annaiese, Jay and Kylie of Carlsbad, NM; Derek Norris (Katie) and daughters EmmaJane and Arabelle of Lovington, NM; Bruce Norris (Danelle) and son, Cash of Knowles, NM; Jennifer Wilson-Brady and children, Madison and Andrew Brady of Winfield, Iowa; Kathryn Wilson-Price (Brandon) and sons, Kaleb and Jace Price of Hobbs of Hobbs; Jill Lilley (Shane) and children JohnRoss and Laynee Lilley of Lovington, NM. She is also survived by one sister, Ruth Fingado of Las Cruces, NM and several nieces and nephews.
The family would like to thank the caretakers at BeeHive Homes of Hobbs for their care of Mary Lee in her final days. In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to New Mexico Boys and Girls Ranch, or to the charity of your choice.