Barbara H. and Charles E. Norman - Chapman Legacy Society
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Gifts Established:

  • Norman-Hicks Scholarship for Law | Est. 1993
brick engraved with name Barbara H. and Charles E. Norman

Barbara H. and Charles E. Norman

Making history came early in the long career of Charles E. Norman. At the age of 29, he was appointed Tulsa’s City Attorney, making him the youngest person to hold that position in Tulsa history.

He helped shape the city’s future through his many community involvements. As city attorney from 1959-68, he oversaw significant changes in the city of Tulsa. His office drafted plans for public housing and downtown revitalization — controversial concepts at the time. His tenure included the development of the Maxwell Convention Center, City Hall and its court buildings, the expansion of the library system and the transformation of the Metropolitan Tulsa Transit Authority. He also oversaw the formation of the Tulsa-Rogers County Port Authority and the Tulsa Housing Authority. Additionally, he was later instrumental in the planning and development of the Tulsa Performing Arts Center and a chairman of the PAC Trust. The PAC’s Charles E. Norman Theatre is named in his honor. Mr. Norman also was president of at least two nonprofit boards: the Arts and Humanities Council of Tulsa and the Tulsa Speech and Hearing Association.

In 1968, he cofounded the Tulsa law firm Norman Wohlgemuth Chandler & Dowdell. In private practice, his primary area of legal specialization was commercial real estate, including municipal and zoning law. He also practiced in the areas of business and corporate law and telecommunications.

It was after helping The University of Tulsa with development issues on campus that Mr. Norman was invited to join the University’s Board of Trustees in 1987. In this role, he had the foresight to create an urban renewal district for areas in and around TU, a designation that made it much easier to complete a number of land acquisitions. As buildings went up on campus, Mr. Norman acted as counselor, negotiator and diplomat for property acquisitions, city negotiations and neighborhood meetings.

During his term as TU board chairman (1993-1995), Mr. Norman led the charge to draft a long-term campus master plan. That effort began TU’s evolution from a local commuter college with low student retention into a premier national residential university with one of the nation’s most distinguished student bodies. Norman Village, one of TU’s residential areas, is named in his honor.

But Mr. Norman had been part of the TU family long before that. Born in Quanah, Texas, in 1930, he attended Texas Tech University, then the University of Oklahoma, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in 1951 and graduated from the OU College of Law in 1953. After graduation, he moved to Tulsa, where he met and married Barbara Hicks, a native Tulsan who had graduated from Oklahoma State University. The couple was blessed with three children: Julie, Philip and Amy. When Amy was born with severe hearing loss, the Normans took her to TU’s speech and hearing department for language classes. They worked with then-TU vice president J. Paschal Twyman to strengthen the program, which at the time was humbly housed in a hotel on 11th Street. The ensuing development of the program paved the way for today’s Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, one of TU’s prized programs.

In 2002, Mr. Norman was named Trustee Emeritus. In 2005, he received TU’s J. Paschal Twyman Award for “outstanding leadership and service beyond the call of duty” to The University of Tulsa.

Mr. Norman’s contributions to TU were wide-ranging and included memberships in the TURC Fellows, McFarlin Fellows and the Golden Hurricane Club. In 1990, the Pearl M. and Julia J. Harmon Foundation honored Mr. Norman by establishing The Charles Norman Award for Greek/Latin Composition, which is given annually. In 1993, Norman and his wife extended their legacy by establishing The Norman-Hicks Scholarship for Law in honor of their respective parents, Grace (Miller) and Charles E. Norman and Valencha (Keith) and Arthur M. Hicks.

On Jan. 22, 2009, Charles E. Norman passed away at the age of 78, and Barbara died in 2022 at the age of 88. Their legacy of generosity and service will continue to shape daily life at TU and beyond for many years to come.