Joseph Norvell, 65, of Wilmington, Delaware passed away unexpectedly on Monday, March 6, 2023.
Joe is survived by his wife of 43 years, Diane M. (Buckalew) Norvell; his children, Alaina Norvell, Jason Norvell (Kelly), Elijah Norvell and Brianna Norvell; his granddaughter, Kenzie Norvell; his mother, Elaine M. (Regan) Norvell; his siblings, Walter J. Norvell III, Michael Norvell (Susan), John Norvell, William Norvell (Amy), and Cissy Delack (Brian) and many nieces and nephews. He was predeceased by his brother, Francis X. Norvell; his father, Walter J. Norvell Jr.
Born and raised in Wilmington to Walt and Elaine, Joe took his role as oldest child and big brother seriously. He attended St. Paul’s Grade School where he met his lifelong friend, John Czarnecki. Joe attended St. Elizabeth for High School with John where he made many friends while playing Varsity Football and Baseball for the Vikings. Pretty soon John and Joe joined Kevin Maloney and Kevin “Muggs” McGinnis. The four have remained close and have had many good times over the years. This is also when he met Diane for the first-time during Sophomore year. While the two dated, they got their practice as parents by taking his brothers with them to the movies, the beach, dinners, mini golf, and ice skating at Twin Lakes. While still in high school, Joe began coaching his brothers’ teams. This was the start to his 30+ years of coaching youth sports. He was a High School football coach for Smyrna, A.I. DuPont, St. Elizabeth, DMA, Dickinson, and Wilmington Charter. Joe and Diane married in 1979, and lived at 301 Valley Road, fondly known as “Club 301.” Joe started working for DuPont at the Experimental Station in his early 20s, where he remained for the next 40+ years. Among the group of 6 that started at the same time and became friends, Rick, Tim and their families were more than just friends, they became part of the family. A few years after starting at Dupont, Alaina was born. Soon they moved to Cleland Heights and had Jason, Eli, and Brianna. Joe continued coaching his kids from the backyard to the softball, baseball, and football fields. One of his saddest times was when all of his kids were done playing sports. As they became adults, he loved taking them out to dinner or cooking up something “rockin” at home. Joe and Diane had a tradition of taking each kid out on their 21st birthday for their first “legal” drink. Everyone’s favorite person was “Vacation Joe” and his favorite place was Lewes. He and Diane rented a house for a week each year and invited friends and family to join them throughout the week. Joe would set umbrellas up on the beach early in the morning, keep everyone’s cocktails full, deliver sandwiches to the beach, and have dinner ready when they came back after sunset. Over the years, the Norvells held many bonfires, hayrides, News Year’s Eve parties, and Game Nights which wouldn’t be complete without their extended Onley family. Their house was always full of kids, whether friends of their children or the daycare kids, not unlike his own house growing up. While Joe’s kids were in school, their friends considered the Norvell house as a second home. Many of them came to the house after school, spent the weekend, had porch parties, and some even lived there for a while. There was never a holiday without at least one extra kid, to Joe’s “ultimate delight.” He was known by many names: Dad, Daddy Joe, Coach, Papa Joe, Mr., and Mr. Norvell. But his favorite title was PopPop to his “Peanut” Kenzie. He took his job of PopPop seriously with the mission to “spoil her rotten”. Much to his own kids’ amazement, PopPop was a pushover for his girl. Sundays were the highlight to his week, taking Kenzie to visit with Nanny and Cissy.
For those that know, “What did one shepherd say to the other…?”
Family and friends are invited to visit at the Doherty Funeral Home, 3200 Limestone Road, Pike Creek on Sunday, March 12 from 2:00 – 4:00PM. A Mass of Christian Burial will be celebrated at St. Elizabeth Church, Cedar and Clayton Streets, Wilmington on Monday, March 13 at 10:00AM. Interment will be held privately.
In keeping with the Liturgical Season of Lent, please omit flowers and kindly consider a donation in memory of Joe to the St. Elizabeth Athletic Program, 1500 Cedar Street, Wilmington, DE 19805.
To send flowers to the family or plant a tree in memory of Joseph Norvell, please visit our floral store.
St. Elizabeth Athletic Association
1500 Cedar Street, Wilmington DE 19805