When Gerald Norwood ’74 starts listing his community activities, even he is surprised at their scope: “You do these things to help,” he laughs, “and you don’t even think about what all you’re doing.”
“These things” include service on the boards of the WSU Alumni Association, Big Brothers & Big Sisters, Crimestoppers and Wellington Place Assisted Living — and that’s in addition to his 29 years of working in sales, the last 18 with Xerox; performing with ARISE, a singing group that strives to preserve African-American spirituals; and speaking on volunteerism and Wichita’s African-American history to numerous local groups.
A former Gore scholar with a degree in religion, Norwood collected paper money, coins and French cameo glass for years before deciding to turn his private collecting to historical purpose.
The aim, for instance, behind his collection of Booker T. Washington memorabilia (first-edition books, notes for speeches, even a 1909 recording of his voice) is to emphasize Washington as a man who knew how to market himself and “did it with finesse,” notably by creating the Tuskegee Institute in 1881 to help African-Americans better their lives through education.
Norwood met Washington’s granddaughter in 1996 and now attends family reunions; he looks forward to next year’s, which will commemorate the 150th year of Washington’s birth.