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Though he came from very humble beginnings, the Rev. Norris Price has fashioned a life that is rich in all the important ways.
At the age of 77, he is still vital, healthy and involved. And he maintains an intellectual curiosity that keeps life interesting.
“I grew up in the country southwest of Ramsey,” Price said. “I suppose we were considered poor. There wasn’t much cash, but we never went hungry. And we had a lot of fun.”
From an early age, he demonstrated a thirst for knowledge and a fascination with people.
“I consider myself a nosey person,” he said. “I try to figure out things and people. It’s like a quest for me.”
But because of his family’s modest financial means, college just wasn’t a possibility after graduation from Ramsey High School.
“Perhaps the saddest day of my life was when I got a partial college scholarship, but knew I couldn’t go because I couldn’t pay the rest of it. I decided then that if I couldn’t go to college, I could read and learn on my own.”
With college out of the picture, the Ramsey native entered the military – serving in the Air Force during the Korean Conflict. After the war, he took a job as a machinist with Caterpillar in Decatur. He also worked in the company’s planning department, helping set up assembly lines and other elements in the plant.
By the time he was about 40, he and his wife, Donna, had three children (Ronn, Larry and Debbie), and life was good. But he began to feel a tug on his life – a call from God to go into the ministry.
“I felt a real desire and responsibility to serve God as the pastor of a church,” he said, “and we began to move in that direction.”
For the next five years – while beginning his career as a pastor – he traveled to Boyce Bible College, a Southern Baptist seminary in Louisville, Ky., taking several classes in a day and then driving back home.
He has served congregations in Odin, Fairfield, Petersburg, Ind., Lawrenceville, Ashmore and Ramsey. He retired in 1997 after six years as pastor at First Baptist Church in Ramsey. Since then, he’s continued to serve as a fill-in pastor one or two Sundays per month.
Throughout his years in the pastorate, Price maintained a regimen that kept him healthy and growing intellectually.
“I have a few rules that I try to live by,” he said.
“First, every year I try to have better relationships with people – especially my family. I’ve been blessed with a great wife; she really has been a wonderful partner. As for other people, I’ve never met a person that didn’t enrich my life somehow.
“Second, I exercise my body. I started running when I was about 40 and I ran until I was 70, then I switched to walking.
“Third, I exercise my mind. I try to do things that require me to think. I read anything that I can get my hands on – usually finishing about 80 or 90 books per year. I’m also a puzzle fan – crossword puzzles, sudoku and mathematical games.
“Fourth, I try to enrich my spiritual life. I read the Bible through each year, using a different version each year.
“And fifth, I try to have the financial side of life in the right perspective.”
Aside from those personal disciplines, he also stays involved in other community activities.
He serves on the Fayette County Hospital District Board, is involved with the group that is attempting to save the old railroad tower in Ramsey, writes a monthly column for the Ramsey News-Journal and is a writer for The Leader-Union’s Minister’s Forum. He and his wife are members of Bethel Baptist Church in rural Vandalia.
As he has for better than four decades, Price continues to write regularly. He considers it a creative outlet, as well as an intellectual challenge to tell a good story.
“I’m not afraid of growing old or dying, but I want my quality of life to be enjoyable until that time comes,” Price said.
“The fact is, I’m already old. But there are things I can do to keep myself where I am for as long as possible.
“Like everyone, I’ve had some bad days. But, overall, life is a joy for me.
"My senior years have produced some of the best times of my life.”