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Council colleagues mourn former mayor
Friends and colleagues paid tribute to former Winnipeg Mayor Bill Norrie last week following his death due to respiratory failure.
The longtime River Heights resident July 6 at the age of 83.
Norrie was first elected in 1979 and served as mayor for 13 years until he stepped down in 1992.
Prior to being elected mayor, Norrie served on municipal council, as a school trustee and a school board chair. After he stepped down as mayor, Norrie was named chancellor of the University of Manitoba in 2001 and served through 2009.
Former St. James councillor Jae Eadie, who served with Norrie on council from 1980 to 1992, called the news saddening and offered condolences to Norrie’s family.
"I knew he hadn’t been well for the last few years, but it always comes as a bit of shock," he said.
Norrie was known for his tenacity and ability to persuade, a combination that led to some interesting debates in council chambers, Eadie said.
"When your arm was being twisted by Bill, it never really felt like it," he said.
Eadie called The Forks one of Norrie’s most enduring legacies.
Eadie worked on Norrie’s executive committee, and was beside Norrie at several meetings in Ottawa with federal ministers to negotiate the project.
Norrie was steadfast in his pursuit to turn the former rail yards into a meeting place, despite the skepticism from the community.
"A lot of people thought it big waste of money and I had a lot of constituents who thought that way," Eadie said, noting he supported the project.
"There was certainly some flak at first, but once the thing got done and people saw the development, people just started crowding down there.
"I don’t think anyone today would say The Forks was a bad idea," he added.
Coun. Harvey Smith (Daniel McIntyre)called Norrie a mayor everyone could be proud of.
"He had integrity, he was straightforward. He didn’t distort the truth," said Smith, who served with Norrie on council from 1980 to 1986.
"I liked him because I could communicate with him well."
Norrie was an independent mayor who didn’t favour lobby groups or labour unions, Smith said.
"He took an individual look at something and gave his sincere opinion," he said.
"He was intelligent. He looked at issues at resolved them and was open to everybody. He was a gentleman."
A public memorial service for Norrie was scheduled for July 11 at 1 p.m at Crescent Fort Rouge United Church.
— With files from Matt Preprost
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