Brother: Tolar freshman gifted in academics, sports

April 24, 2013

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Tolar High School freshman Bryce Norris is being remembered as a bright and gifted student-athlete.

Norris, 15, was killed when struck by a car at about 7 p.m. Friday on Highway 377 near the Tolar Post Office. He was pronounced dead at the scene at 7:35 p.m. by Justice of the Peace Judy Watson, according to Tolar Chief of Police R.C. Cox.

The driver of the Pontiac four-door that struck Norris was a 24-year-old man from Henderson who was cited for having no driver’s license and released, Cox said. When asked if other charges related to the pedestrian death may be filed against the driver, Cox said that the investigation is continuing. The Tolar police officer who responded to the crash is working in conjunction with the DPS trooper who also worked the crash scene.

Cox said that Norris was a passenger in an eastbound pickup truck and was let out on the side of the highway. He went around the front of the pickup and was struck just as he attempted to run across the highway to his residence, 102 Pecan Lane, a street that intersects with Highway 377.

“He stepped right out in front of the vehicle,” Cox said, referring to the Pontiac, which was also eastbound on 377.

Tammie Baker, a friend who organized a candlelight vigil for Norris Saturday night in Tolar, estimated that as many as 400 people attended. Prayers were offered, and a number of friends addressed the crowd. Some of the most touching comments came from Norris’ two brothers, Jon Norris Brown of Tolar and Brian Norris of Stephenville.

Jon said that Norris took honors classes at THS and was “almost too smart” for school, sometimes leading to discussions with his teachers about his tendency to not “show his work” in math. His best subjects were math and science, Jon said.

“He’s way smart,” Jon said. “He could have done anything. He was gifted in football. Bryce always had a happy personality. He was like friends with everybody. People just liked being around him. He was very well loved.”

Tolar Athletic Director Mike Franklin told the family that no Tolar football player – from junior high through high school – will wear Norris’ No. 63 until after 2015, which would have been his senior season.

Franklin presented the family with Norris’ purple Tolar football jersey on Saturday. Norris’ white jersey will hang in the Tolar locker room, also through the 2015 football season, Franklin said. As an additional tribute, everyone issued a helmet in the Tolar football program for the next three seasons will have a No. 63 sticker on one side.

“That’s Bryce’s number until he graduates,” Franklin said Monday afternoon.

Franklin described Norris as having a “quirky” personality, but he was “even keeled” and his future as a football player for Tolar looked promising. He said Norris was short, stocky and had “a motor” as a football player – attributes that could potentially have helped him to be elevated to the varsity as a sophomore.

“He was probably the strongest freshman kid we had. He was a bull,” said Franklin, adding that Norris competed in shot put and discus for the JV track team. “He was just a good kid. Very intelligent. He just kind of did his own thing and had fun. He always had a smile on his face.”

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