In Honor of Richard I. Norby

En l’honneur de mon frère Richard Norby, Coeur d’lion

By Ken K. Gourdin

Notwithstanding the fact that some of my roots extend back to France, nonetheless, while I speak passable Spanish, alas, I have never learned French. Thus, I am dependent upon Google Translate for my title. If it needs to be tweaked (or even if it needs to be overhauled wholesale) please feel free to let me know in the comments. On his first mission for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints to to France, Elder Richard I. Norby, who had, along with his wife, Pam, returned to the area as a senior missionary, was bestowed the apellation The Lionhearted by some of the people with, and for, whom he served.

Elder Norby was one of four missionaries who was seriously injured in the 2016 bombing of the airport in Brussels, Belgium. One of the best stories from 2016 is the story of his recovery and the emotional response of him and his family to the attack, as he was at “Ground Zero” when it occurred. (I know Elder Norby well enough to know that various news outlets have misreported his middle initial as “J.” So there!)

In a Devotional for Young Adults of the Church of Jesus Christ, Elder Quentin L. Cook of the Quorum of the Twelve shared Elder Norby’s expression of faith in the face of the attack. Elder Cook said in part:

Last March 22nd [2016], a terrorist detonated a suicide bomb in the Brussels, Belgium, airport. Four of our missionaries were at the Delta checkout counter. All of them suffered significant injuries; some were very serious. A senior missionary, Elder Richard Norby’s injuries were very serious. Recently he indicated that while life will never be quite the same, “he has chosen to rely on the Lord and not fear.” He further said, “I’m going to live my life, and I’m going to teach my children and grandchildren that we [must] put our trust in God” [Endnote omitted].

Elder Cook’s address can be found here, last accessed January 3, 2017:

Salt Lake City’s Deseret News made the more complete version of the quote from Elder Norby one of its memorable quotes from 2016. Elder Norby (ellipses in original) said:

“Our focus isn’t terrorism, because we’re not terrorized. … I’m not a victim. I’m a survivor. Fear won’t stop me from going to Europe or an airport or accepting refugees. If we become more fearful, we’re being acted upon. I’m going to live my life, and I’m going to teach my children and grandchildren that we put our trust in God.”

Elder Norby’s quote can be found here, last accessed January 3, 2017:

In response to news coverage when another poster expressed hope for Elder Norby’s speedy recovery, I responded:

I hope [he recovers quickly], too. He’s a good friend of mine. I spent more than a few minutes on more than a few occasions in his office, unburdening my then-teenage-angst-ridden soul to him, and I saw him every few years after I graduated high school until he and I both relocated elsewhere.

Commenting on how well all of the injured the missionaries seemed to be handling their plight, I wrote:

From public appearances, at least, it seems that even the young missionaries are handling this turn of events with a good deal of grace. As for Elder Norby, I know him personally, and have for about 30 years. I’ve sat in his office on more than a few occasions, discussing matters both mundane and weighty, at times unburdening my then teenage-angst-ridden soul. While I don’t recall the substance of those conversations, the jist of Elder Norby’s advice was, “Ken, the only thing that matters is who you are in God’s eyes.” As much as people might be tempted to say the missionaries were in the wrong place at the wrong time, I doubt Elder Norby would say that there’s ever a wrong place or a wrong time to serve. I’ve always known him to be a man who does what’s right without counting the cost. So here.

I commented regarding Elder Norby’s recovery from one operation he underwent (just one of too many, no doubt: I haven’t had that many operations, but I’ve had enough to know that sometimes, recovery can be a bear). The material in quotations quotes portions of the story on which I was commenting. I wrote:

After getting out of another surgery, he ate a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, some ice cream and a banana and drank some chocolate milk.”

[In response to carping as to why what Elder Norby ate is “news,” I wrote]: If one has been off of solid food for a while, even such a simple meal as that seems fit for a king, and so it is. Bon appetit!

[Dr.] Morris said Norby is looking forward to walking for the first time since the attack …”

As one who’s had his own mobility issues (though they pale in comparison to what Elder Norby is facing) I say that’s a miracle in its own right. You go, Norb!


About kenngo1969

Just as others must breathe to live, I must write. I have been writing creatively almost ever since I learned to write, period! I have written fiction, book- and article-length nonfiction, award-winning poetry, news, sports, features, and op-eds. I hope, one day, to write some motivational nonfiction, a decent-selling novel, a stage play, and a screen play.
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