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Irving Dean Norwood

Born on 3-30-1935. He was born in Cresent, OK.
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Irving Dean Norwood was born in Cresent, Logan County, Oklahoma on March 30, 1935, the son of Benjamin Kidd Norwood and Lovenia Fields Norwood. His father was a sharecropper and his mother a homemaker. His mother refused to do house work for whites after being a childhood witness and victim during the Oklahoma riots, when she was just eleven years old. That experience left a permanent scar in her life.

Irving attended Pleasant Green and Zion Elementary Schools and graduated from Douglass High School in 1954. All were schools for African American children. During his childhood, Irving enjoyed playing with the children in the community which consisted families of sharecroppers and those who owned parcels of land. Irving's responsibilities as a child and one of six children, were to contribute to the care of the pigs, cows, horses, chickens and other farm animals, as well as the gardens, where they grew onions, sweet and red potatoes, maze, corn, watermelon, sting beans and more .As a sharecropping family, the bounty had to be shared with the owner. Sometimes, the owner's share was much more than sharecropper's.

Cotton was always ready to be picked in the second week of September. That meant that Irving and the other children had to leave school, which had started the first of September, in order to pick the cotton. At the end of the day, Irving usually picked 800 lbs. of cotton. He would then have to go home and tend to the hogs, cattle and chickens, being sure that they had water and or food.

After high school, Irving immediately left Cresent. He did not know where he was going to go, but he was looking for a better life. He ended up following his sisters, Lurene and Bendina, who had married and left Cresent and ended up in Wichita, Kansas, a state that was said to not be segregated.

Irving attended Wichita Drafting College. There, Irving's interest in engineering was sparked. He secured a job at Boeing Aircraft in maintenance while attending college. There he saw many people doing many types of work and wondered how he could get out of the toilet detail he was on? He went to HR and complained and he and 32 other African Americans filed a discrimination complaint via the NAACP. That sparked the interest needed for change.

In reviewing his file, an HR representative told him that if he took some of the classes that Boeing offered, that he could get out of the toilet training. He did, and when he completed the course work, found that there were suddenly jobs available at Boeing. He was then transferred to a position installing hydraulic equipment in the midsection of the plane. In less than a month, he was able to read blueprints, do soldering and install hydraulic equipment using special too. He was always able to complete 40 hours of work in less than a day.

This prompted the need for the plant administrators to do a "time in motion study", due to their disbelief. They did not realize Irving's work ethic came from the regiment given to him as a child on the farm back in Cresent. There your worth was measured by the amount of work you completed each day. Boeing had to find additional work for him to do, which included helping other workers complete their jobs.

The United States Army drafted Irvin in February 1958. He served as a Specialist 4th Class and receive an Honorable discharge in October 1959 at Fort Camel Kentucky, the 101st Airborne Division-Screaming Eagles. He was placed in this Division when he was let out early. He made 12 jumps at 50.00 dollars each, per month. He was not a fan of the Army.

From the Army he went to Los Angeles, California because he was told that there was no snow there and he could get a two-year college education for free. He immediately enrolled in Los Angeles Trade Technical College and received his first college degree, an Associate in Electrical Technology. He was hired by Vickers Hydraulic Corporation as a Mechanical Designer and worked for them for nine years and nine months. Vickers wanted to send him to Chicago, he declined.

While working there he learned from other engineers that whatever you did for the company belonged to the company. Not willing to accept this inequity, Irving decided to go into Finance. Later, he worked at Lockheed Martin for three years and three months. Lockheed wanted to transfer him to Pasagula, Mississippi, which he also declined. He began to take classes at the University of Southern California, transferring course work he had already completed (70 units). He graduated from the University of Southern California with a bachelor's degree in Finance, in 1976.

It was in 1972, Irving secured a job at Hughes Aircraft as a Project Control Administrator. He worked there for twenty-five years. Hughes Aircraft was required to hire minorities (colored people) as a condition of it receiving government contracts. While there, he learned more about working with contracts and after he earned his degree, he was told by the division's Contract Director to work with another Contract Manager who was said not to have enough financial skills, in order to keep their customers happy. The next day, he got a call from the company's science engineer, who wanted to keep him in his organization. He told Irving that if he had not been offered at least 50 more dollars, he was not going to release him. The contract director made sure that the money was right and Irvin began the new job. His financial reputation began to precede him.

He began to negotiate contracts for the company. The customers and the company came to a happy median, because of his work. In the hours after work, Irving would still be at his station working on the stock market, where he was gaining more financial expertise. To Irving, the stock Market was his way of being able to count his own money, without a white man standing over his shoulder, and he himself becoming self-sufficient and financially stable. Folks began to get curious about him and wanted to know what he was doing and how they could invest. Irving says that today, he has a lot of happy co workers who decided to join him in the knowledge investment he set up. He recalls one coworker in particular, whose cubicle was next to his. She had been listening to some of his conversations and decide that she wanted to invest in the company's stock. Irving assisted her and she is still financially secured today!

During this time, another employee sought out Irving to help her form an organization to address complaints and concerns of the "Black" employees at Hughes. Irving's initial response was "no" after having had previous, not so pleasant interactions with his peers before. He was quickly reminded of the fact that he himself was still "Black", so he agreed to help and in approximately 1984 the "Hughes Black Professional Forum" HBPF, was established. Irving's contribution was a: Hike for Health and Education and Scholarship .Its motto was: "Together We Can Make Things Happen." Irving also set up a financial model to have hikers voluntarily pay into the scholarship which started at $2,000 dollars and grew to $7,000 dollars in it's highest year.

Irving's status as a stock holder strengthened his ability to be recognized and respected at the table with management. When General Motors invested in Hughes Aircraft and Irving was at a meeting, the question was asked, "Are there any more questions?" Irving responded, "The concern I have as a stockholder is, you have eight members of the board of directors, five of them are finance people and you have no engineers or scientists on the board, and this is the most valuable company in the world in space technology; why can't we have some space scientists or engineers on the board?" The president asked him where he got the numbers from, and when Irving referred to his list, the president said he (scientist) was still there, but that they had changed the title. Irving heard some celebrating from the listening audience. At the next meeting, a Space had been added to the Board of Directors specific to Irvin's question.

It was in 1965 that Irving actually started testing his investment in the Stock Market, during that time, the market wasn't doing well. His interest or where he felt his domain was, was in the black community. He met a soldier by the name of Lasker Jones who was stationed in Enid, California. He partnered with him to establish an investment group. While that group is now defunct. Irving's group became a million-dollar financial success.

Irving was indeed successful in his goal of "finding a better life" and he helped a lot of people along the way!