Jimmy D. Norman may have been born in Arkansas, but he’s been a Bartlett man since about 1977. He’s made a name for himself in local real estate, faced down cancer and remained happily married for more than 50 years.
He says he’s proud to be named the 2017 Bartlett Express Readers’ Choice Man of the Year.
“It’s quite an honor,” Norman said. “I feel very honored.”
His family moved to a cotton farm in southeast Missouri when he was five, and he came to Memphis at age 18. He began work as a butcher at Kroger in Eastgate in 1963. He later worked as a meat cutter and then a member of management for Fred Montesi until late April 1979, when he decided to go into real estate.
“Got cold,” he said with a laugh. “I got tired of working in the freezer.”
He always wanted to work in real estate, he said. So he worked as an affiliate broker for two years and then became a broker. “And I’ve been doing this pretty much ever since. … I’ve enjoyed the career. It’s been good to me.”
His company, Norman Realtors, moved to its current building at 6061 Stage Road in 1993, and he bought the building the next year. He built it up over the years with his own people skills, good employees and hard work.
“This is a people business,” he said. “You’ve got to get to know people. You don’t do business sitting at home alone.”
He takes pride in how he has earned the trust of his customers over many transactions and many years in the real estate business.
“Success is not always measured in money,” Norman said. “It’s the people that you have around you. And I’ve always taken a lot of pride in doing people like I would like to have done to me. I’ve always tried to do people right and keep a good reputation, and so far I’m proud of that. I’m proud of that accomplishment in my life.”
He trusts in living by the Golden Rule, and he has no trouble sleeping at night, he said. “My Dad always taught me that your name, your reputation, is all you really have.”
Norman has remained active in his community as a member of Bartlett Hills Baptist Church. He’s also served for years in the Al Chymia Shrine, where he was Potentate in 2007, a member of the Shrine Mounted Patrol for 15 years, and the Shriners’ recorder since 2012.
That year, 2012, was a pivotal one in his life. He faced a terminal cancer diagnosis and wasn’t expected to survive through the end of the year.
“They told me I was going to die,” he said. “They told me to get my house in order, pretty much bluntly.”
That’s when he sold Norman Realtors to his longtime colleague Patti Jennings. He took several rounds of chemotherapy and survived despite the long odds against him. He has now been in remission for about two years. Today, he works as a broker for her at Norman Realtors and is happy to remain working in the field he loves.
Cancer hasn’t been his only hill to climb. In his career, he’s faced many ups and downs. The real estate industry was hard hit in the early 1980s when the Federal Housing Administration (FHA) and Veterans Administration (VA) interest rates were 18 percent.
“We think we’ve got it bad,” Norman said. “I don’t know why people aren’t lined up out that door to buy houses!”
Then the 2008 recession took a toll on property values. He not only survived that, he made it past his cancer diagnosis four years later.
Gratitude is a theme for Norman, especially since he’s got a new lease on life.
“I give my success first of all to almighty God,” Norman said. “And then I give my success to my lovely wife of 52 years, Miss Sue. And she has always been by my side.”
Their son works for the Corps of Engineers in Vicksburg, Miss. Norman said he has two beautiful granddaughters, ages 9 and 12, who he loves to indulge.
He also counts himself fortunate in business. “I have to credit my success to the people around me. Miss Patti – I’ve known Miss Patti. She was my business partner years ago and I’ve known her for a long time, so she was pretty much a natural to take over the management of the business when I needed her.”
He’s glad to still be around, with people he cares about, doing the work that’s important to him.
“I couldn’t imagine myself doing anything else,” he said.
CAROLYN BAHM is the editor of The Bartlett Express. Contact her at (901) 433-9138 or via email to firstname.lastname@example.org.