“Stormin'” Norman Marsh (1952 – 2014)

In September, 2004 I read an article in the Honolulu Advertiser about the Oahu Adult Baseball League, that featured a team called the Oahu Ravens. At the time, I’d been living on Oahu for almost a year and hadn’t made any real friends and didn’t feel particularly connected to a community yet.

Though I hadn’t played on an organized baseball team since I was 14, on Monday, September 21, 2004 (my 29th birthday), I called the league, signed up, and was placed on the roster of the Oahu Ravens – the same team profiled in the above-linked article.

RIP Stormin' Norman Marsh (1952-2014); Norm was a North Shore surfing legend and a great friend

RIP Stormin’ Norman Marsh (1952-2014); Norm was a North Shore surfing legend and a great friend (photo by Sik Photography)

One of the first guys I met was Norm Marsh. Stormin’ Norman, as we called him, was a 51-year-old surfer dude. He stood about 6’1″ maybe 6’2″, with long limbs, sun-bleached hair, and a tan that seemed to go down to his bones. He had light blue – almost grey – eyes and an easy, genuine smile. He had a dog, a teenaged German Shepard named Mako, that was his ever-present sidekick.

Norm was athletic and handsome, ego-less but cool. He walked with a smooth, confident gait, like a champion racehorse, and his confidence was contagious. When you were hanging with Norm, you felt cool and athletic and handsome.

As a vocation, Norm shaped surfboards. As a lifestyle, he rode waves and played baseball. Norm lived on the North Shore of the island and didn’t spend much time indoors. He didn’t have an email address, certainly didn’t have Facebook account and didn’t own a cellphone. If you wanted to contact Norm, you called his shop. If he didn’t answer, you called back later. He was a throwback to an earlier era in Hawaii. It wouldn’t have surprised me at all if we found out someday that Norm was a time-traveler from the 1950’s.

Norm didn’t play baseball in high school. As a Freshman in the late 1960’s Norm was a talented athlete, but when the school’s coach instituted a rule banning long hair on the team, Norm decided that he’d rather maintain his independence than conform. He didn’t play ball again until his 40’s. With the Oahu Ravens, he usually played second and third base. He had good patience at the plate and when he got ahold of one, he had decent power to the gaps.

Norm had an easy, natural charisma that made me feel welcome to the Ravens at a time when I was still trying to feel comfortable in my new community. That same easy, friendly manner that made me feel welcome was what made Norm universally liked and respected in the Oahu Adult Baseball League and on the North Shore. Norm was a local fixture charging big waves up there, so much so that the Hawaii Surf News Network called him “an underground legend.”

In June of this year Norm was diagnosed with Stage 4 Prostate Cancer. Stormin’ Norman passed away on Wednesday, August 27, 2014 at age 61. He will be missed by everyone he ever shared a lineup with, be it on the baseball diamond or out on the waves.

Wherever you are today, Norm, they’re lucky to have you.

The Oahu Ravens lineup isn't the same without you, Norm.

The Oahu Ravens lineup isn’t the same without you, Norm.

Bookmark the permalink.

20 Comments

  1. Very Nice Paul. Thanks for this.

  2. Thanks a lot Paul. No doubt he loved surfing and his dog but Norman sure loved playing baseball. I laugh thinking of our long phone conversations that always included him recanting the highlights of the most recent ball game. A skilled athlete, friendly and unassuming, he will be missed.

  3. Paul ~ Don’t think you are Paul Reeves, but you probably know him – and Paul Kopp & Steve N. I’m Ginny – Norman’s soulmate of 24 years. I went to every single one of his games, and when I moved back to the mainland in ’99, he and I talked every day, and I too was given the blow-by-blow recap of his latest game. I brought him back a month ago while he was still able to make the trip to be w/his family. What a beautiful tribute you wrote. Norman’s memorial service/funeral is Tuesday, 9/9, and I would like your permission to read this at the service. You may contact me at (562) 433-8834 or ginnywakefield@verizon.net
    Mahalo nui~

  4. Well written, my friend. Norm was a great friend to me and I’m sure to everyone who knew him.

    Aloha, my dear friend

  5. Mickey "Woody" Lloyd

    I was shocked and saddened to hear this. One of my oldest (48yrs) friend is Norman’s brother Danny. We all go back to playing ball in Compton Little League. Then later raising hell in Lynwood Ca. I would always look up Norman on my stays on Oahu. On our visits it was like no time has pass at all. I will miss him, he was a breath of fresh air to everyone who meet or knew him. Note: I can get to or find that article on the Hawaii Surf News Network “an underground legend” could someone please email it to me? woody58@cox.net

  6. Storman Norman! ” Norman Dog” Loved that guy! He was one of the most unique characters I have ever had the pleasure to call a friend. Great surfer at any size wave. Intuitive original shaper, made insane “blades” his boards were fast and could handle. When ever you saw him his smile and spirit would light up the line up or where ever he was. He always made me smile or laugh. His manner of enthusiastic and matter of fact expression was special. Amazing avid fisherman! He taught my son Noa to catch Nenue using limu. My son and I got to visit him a couple weeks ago, he said, ” life is fragile. He told me the important thing was to have no regrets and said he did not have any. He said was hoping for a miracle but if not he was ready for what the good Lord had in store for him. Aloha Norm will miss you and keep in our hearts.

    This Sunday 3 pm Sept 21, BBQ , Talk story paddle out for Norm at his friends house on the beach, its the big yellow house first one past left overs parking lot.

  7. I was so “shocked” to hear about Norman…I asked around trying to find out what happened and found out thru one of my mail customers who is a shaper and knew Norman….Mahalo for writing this beautiful tribute to him….I’m sharing it on my FB site so others can be informed…again thanks for the beautiful article…Aloha Kathy Myers

  8. I was lucky to attend the gathering and paddle out last Sunday at leftovers/alligators for our good friend Norman. I think he would have been stoked and thanks to our friend Michael Vorhees for being such a great host I met Norm almost 20 years ago and although it took me a while to get to know him I really came to value his friendship. Interestingly, one thing we had in common was spending time in our youth in the Lynwood area of Southern California, not exactly surf central. But as a north shore vet his knowledge of the ocean and wave riding was virtually unmatched. Norm had a strong character, and that rare ability to focus and stay true to things that brought him joy, and not get caught up in all the trappings that consume most of us. His good cheer and happy go lucky attitude were contagious and always a bright spot, and universally applied to everyone around him. As a surfer and a person, it was an honor and a pleasure to know and hang out with him. I’ve been thinking about him a lot lately. He will be missed.

  9. I knew Norm, “Storman Norman,” back in 1976-1977.
    He was a old school waterman, a purist, even then. He was a pleasure to be around. I remember one time when Norm, myself and a friend were going to surf Waiamea, when we got to the beach there were no waves, the anticipated swell did not hit. So we went over to Waiamea park and jumped off the highest point we(actually Norm) could find at the Waiamea falls. Norm went first and did a perfect swan dive head first into he water. The dive was a 10/10, I was amazed. I jumped, and my friend decided to walk back down. After I left in early 1978 I lost contact with him. Recently his name came up during a conversation with someone that knew him and his family and told me he was still in HI, I was thinking I would get in touch with him the next time I was in Hawaii. I am really sorry to hear he passed away.

  10. So glad we met up with Norm on Wiakiki about 8 years ago. He drove down and so stoked we got to see him. What a unique individual! RIP STORMIN NORMIN!!

  11. Great guy. Too much fun… the real deal…. energy & kindness….a classic & ‘they broke the mold’ after he arrived…..always smiling….Carpe Diem!

  12. I am saddened to learn of norm passing. It is hard to know I will never be able to talk baseball, surfing or just talking story about life with him. I appreciate everything I read from Paul and will add that Norm treated
    my kids like he was their ‘uncle norm’ which was great. Mako was a lucky dog. I regret that I had not been able to contact norm and hope he knows that I thought of him often. RIP Norm.

  13. I had the pleasure of meeting Norm in Puerto Escondido, Mexico one summer (1989?) on my way through Central America. He must have brought at least a few of his blades along with him, which he was planning to use for a while and then sell, before leaving. Those boards were quickly unloaded as they were works of art. I was fortunate enough to have bought one from Norm before he left. In fact, I remember taking him to the airport to catch his departing flight. That board was the best board I’ve ever had and I eventually made a couple of more boards from a template of that board and I hope to make another one very soon. I’ve been searching the internet for years trying to identify the source of Stormin Norman Blades and if they were in production. I’m saddened by his untimely end, but very grateful that I finally crossed his path again by this posting.

  14. STORMIN NORMAN, what can I say. We first met Norman as young teen agers while surfing “da country”. We were kinda of in awe of this big “haole guy” who was built like a pro athlete and surfed big waves. Over the years we would see him surfing all the time especially when the waves were bigger. Norman was a charger, and no matter how big the surf was Norman never wore a surf leash and always charged. He could out paddle anybody. And it’s true, Norman was always smiling. Not sure if we can take the credit but one day in conversation with him we called him stormin Norman. He smiled and said ” I like that”. After that he started labeling his boards that he shaped with the label “Stormin”. My job forced me to move to the mainland so I lost touch with Norman, but my boys who still live and surf on Oahu saw him regularly and informed me of his passing. Bruddah Norman you were original and will be missed. Aloha Stephen

  15. I first knew Norman in Little League baseball at Stephen Foster (in Compton, CA) and soon after he moved to nearby my home in what became Lynwood.

    We were on again off again friends for years. We had five fist fights but remained friends even after the last one.

    He, our mutual friend Mike Woodall and I all were on the high school baseball team together as freshmen. Berdy Harr was our coach – hate to contradict the story, but the referenced hair rule was not correct. We all left the team for other reasons, but Harr wen on to coach at Mt. Sac. One of his students was Ozzie Smith.

    Incidentally, Mike Wooodall passed away in 2006.

    I am profoundly sad to learn that of the three childhood pals, I am alone.

  16. I just came upon this.
    I spent the winter of 78-79 living with Stormin on the North Shore in place we called Troll Palace, just down from Wiamea. It was an old chicken farm. It was still old school North Shore, just like it was in the 60’s. We all gave “Stormin” his nickname that year. Back in the day, Rolf, the Great White, Aladdin, The Tree Trog, Berg, Wendy, the mokes. Surfed places like Sunset, Log Cabins, Jocko, by ourselves ! Thanks for the Aloha, Norm….

    • hey ledge hoge, yes remember going to the toll palace with you, third world living for sure…. miss Norman dog, good times, hope you and family well, aloha, sean

Leave a Reply