Farewell to a Friend
Jim Norwood Passes Away - 9-27-2016
It was with great sadness that my newsfeed this week alerted me to the passing of fellow railfan and model railroader Jim Norwood.
I have known Jim for a very long time. Both he and my father were active members of the KCSHS. My family made many summer trips to KCSHS conventions in the '80's and '90's. These conventions are where we met Jim. He was always very pleasant, exuding "southern hospitality" to those he interacted with.
In 1998 I left New Orleans, moving to Fort Worth to begin my career with the BNSF. Jim Norwood quickly welcomed me to his home and introduced me to his operating group. Over the many years since then I have been fortunate enough to attend a number of operating sessions on his large HO scale railroad.
Jim's railroad is quite impressive, a bit overwhelming in scope (the entire KCS in theory), with a number of very detailed scenes. Not having my own railroad, I asked him if he would mind allowing me to do a photo-shoot of my proto-freelanced equipment on his railroad. Jim graciously agreed and on March 19, 2009 I spent several hours photographing the green-and-white locomotives of my T&GN and NT&O on his railroad, yielding many of the stock images I use throughout this website.
Time does fly--that photo-shoot seems like yesterday. In 2011 I moved to Lincoln, NE and remained there until 2014.
Upon moving back to Fort Worth my time has been consumed with work and family. In fact it was not until last month that I came across his name and realized that I had not reached out to him since I returned to Fort Worth. One simple e-mail later and I had an invite to an operating session to be held on Wednesday, August 24, 2016. He encouraged me to invite some friends and so Ronald Jones and Rick Simpson came along for their first visit to Jim's railroad.
The usual cast was there. In some ways the five years that had elapsed since my last visit seemed to vanish. Jim assigned me to train No. 423, handed me the paperwork, and directed me towards the room that contained Heavener Yard.
KCS 638 and KCS 642, a pair of Athearn RTR SD40-2s, were my power and I would build the train with the noted cars on the paperwork. One train with three more KCS SD40-2s passed through Heavener while I was switching.
Jim played the role of dispatcher. Once I had my train built, I contacted the dispatcher and was given an excellent run across the railroad which can best be described as a labyrinth of tracks that occupy all of the second floor of his house.
Though it was late when my train reached its destination of Deramus Yard (Shreveport), Jim coaxed me into accepting a second assignment. "It'll be a quick run," Jim said.
There was a new third-level on this layout that was not there when I last visited. This assignment was a Rock Island local that operated from Winnfield to Baton Rouge in his world. A pair of maroon Rock Island geeps did indeed make quick work of this task!
My alarm clock would be going off very early in the morning, ensuring that I made it on time to my real job dispatching the BNSF Ravenna Subdivision. It was time to put up my radio and my throttle and say goodnight. On my way home I contemplated how I almost did not accept this invitation. I never stay out late on work nights. I made the right choice I thought satisfied. It was good to see my friends again. It did not occur to me that this would be my last run on his KCS.
R.I.P. Jim Norwood. You will be missed. Thank you for the memories!
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