Retirees Association

Remembrance of Norma Wilcox by Tracey Steele

It is with the heaviest of hearts that I share with you the passing of our former colleague, Dr. Norma Wilcox, Associate Professor Emerita. Norma passed away at her Kettering home on October 22, 2017 after an extended illness. 

Norma Wilcox was a sociologist who specialized in the area of prison research and education. Her publications, teaching interests and extensive record of service were dedicated to the pursuit of social justice. She was particularly dedicated to the cause of prison education having both taught and volunteered at Ohio Correctional Institutions. She was a much-beloved teacher & mentor who gave of herself generously to all whose paths she crossed. 

Born in 1939 in Marion, Illinois, she earned a BA in Sociology at the University of Arkansas at Little Rock in 1973. She then relocated to Illinois and obtained her PhD in Sociology in 1983 from Saint Louis University.   After several years holding adjunct and visiting assistant professor positions at local post-secondary institutions including Wittenberg University, Wilmington College, as well as Wright State University, Norma obtained a tenure-track position at WSU in 1998. She earned tenure and retired in the fall of 2005 while also serving admirably as the Director of the Criminal Justice Program.

Norma was an indefatigable advocate for our students, the disadvantaged, and the marginalized more generally. She took on the most challenged of students with grace, kindness, and unworldly patience, all to great success. Her popularity was such that office staff once threatened to install a traffic light in the hallway to help control the throng of students who routinely congregated outside her door.

Friend and colleague, Dr. Karen Lahm reflected: "Dr. Norma Wilcox was truly a unique and rare personality in the world of academia, as she was not only intelligent, but kind and completely unpretentious. Her impact went well beyond class discussions, letters of recommendation, and advice on graduate school. Simply put, she was an extraordinary educator and individual who literally changed the trajectory of her students' lives (both WSU students and the inmates she taught in Ohio's prisons). Her generosity of spirit and elegant nature will never be forgotten by those of us who called her teacher, colleague, and friend. There is no doubt that we are the ones significantly enriched for having known Dr. Norma Wilcox." 

Tracey Steele

Professor and Chair

Department of Sociology & Anthropology