In Memory of





Obituary for Thomas "Merle" Norris, Sr.

Thomas “Merle” Norris, Sr., of Leonardtown, MD, passed away peacefully at the age of 78 on March 9th, 2024 at Washington Hospital Center with his beloved wife, Eleanor, and children at his side. Merle was the eldest son of Mildred and Ernest Norris of Leonardtown, MD, born on March 16, 1945. He attended Leonardtown High School and was a graduate of the Class of 1964. Merle started working at Fenwick Ford in 1964, and soon became a certified Ford mechanic. While working at the Ford dealership in 1964, they had a delivery of new vehicles which included the very first 1964 ½ Canary Yellow Mustang Convertible GT in St. Mary’s County, MD; Merle purchased it on the spot.

While working at Fenwick Ford, in July of 1966 his life was forever changed when his cousin, Phyllis Norris, introduced him to the love of his life, Eleanor Ellis, of Avenue, MD. Merle and Eleanor were married on November 18, 1966 in Holy Angels Catholic Church. Merle then transitioned to the State Highway Administration in 1974 where he retired in 1988. He had quite the green thumb, and always grew the best gardens using his 1939 L John Deere that he inherited from his father, Ernest Norris. The 1939 John Deere is still in the family today and is owned by his oldest son, Tom. Merle was quite the jokester and was an avid waterman. He enjoyed spending time with family and friends out on the water, as well as oystering, crabbing, fishing, and duck hunting with his long-time friend, Roland Demers, Sr.

Merle and Eleanor had the opportunity of renewing their vows after 50 years of marriage at the same church on the same day at the same time with the original maid of honor and lifelong friend, Tommy Cook, of Waldorf, MD as his best man.

Merle and Eleanor have three children, Anne Hilsinger (Mike) of Mechanicsville MD, Thomas Norris, Jr. (Rose) of Leonardtown, MD and Andrew Norris of Mechanicsville, MD. He has three grandchildren, Ashley Stephenson, Matthew Norris (Ashley), and Heather Norris, three extended grandchildren (Ashley King, Alexandra Barnaby, and Katherine Hilsinger), six great grandchildren, Jaylah, Bentley, AJ, Jaelyn, Hailey, and Rylynn, three extended great grandchildren, (Kennedy, Mikey, and Raylah due in June), as well as five nieces and two nephews. Merle is preceded in death by his mother, Mildred, his father, Ernest, his brother, Ernie, his sister, Millie, and his niece, Erin Rochelle Norris. In addition to his wife, Merle is survived by his sister, Ellen Quade, of Leonardtown, MD.

The family will receive friends on Thursday, March 14, 2024 from 10:00 AM to 11:00 AM in Our Lady’s at Medley’s Neck, Leonardtown, MD, where a Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at 11:00 AM with Father John Nguyen officiating. Interment will follow at Charles Memorial Gardens, Leonardtown, MD. Serving as pallbearers will be Tom Norris, Andrew Norris, Jimmy Quade, Matt Norris, Heather Norris, and Michael Hilsinger.

In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to Hospice of St. Mary’s, P.O. Box 625, Leonardtown, MD 20650.

Condolences may be made to the family at

Arrangements provided by the Mattingley-Gardiner Funeral Home and Cremation Services, P.A., Leonardtown, MD.