Henry Charles Norcom Jr.

September 21, 1961October 20, 2018
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Henry Charles Norcom Jr., son of the late Henry Charles Norcom, Sr., and Carmel Braden Norcom, of Clifton, Virginia, was born on September 21, 1961, in Washington, D.C. He died on October 20, 2018, at the age of fifty-seven, doing what he enjoyed most—helping the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, VA Chapter 27-2. Henry was the fifth of six children, and was predeceased by his brother, Charles (“Chuck”) Edward Norcom of Clifton, Virginia.

Henry’s childhood centered around his love of baseball and teaching himself celestial navigation. As he grew older, he developed a passion for jazz, playing the saxophone in Chantilly Jazz and listening to jazz greats. He also enjoyed building model airplanes and tanks and creating “military maneuvers” in his bedroom closet.

Following in his father’s footsteps, Henry pursued a career in the military. Upon graduating from Hampton University in 1983, he was commissioned as a Second Lieutenant in the U.S. Army, and excelled in training cadets. He served in the U.S. invasion of Panama and the Iraq War, earning distinguished honors, including the Bronze Star Medal, Meritorious Service Medal, Army Commendation Medal, Army Achievement Medal, and the Armed Forces Reserve Medal and Mobilization. Eventually, Henry left the military to study law, earning a Juris Doctor in 1998 at The Catholic University of America, Columbus School of Law, and became an Attorney-Advisor for the U.S. State Department.

As a reservist, Henry left for a tour of duty in Iraq in 2002, while his beloved wife, Sandra Bishop (“Sandy”), maintained a loving household and cared for their one-year-old son, Oliver Henry, and one-week old daughter, Madison Cambrie. He returned to civilian life, eventually moving into the position of Director of the Office of Civil Rights at the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service in Washington, D.C.

Henry’s high energy level as a child earned him placement in the “Henry seat” in the family station wagon on more than one occasion, and this energy never waned, even as an adult. He moved fluidly between the responsibilities of raising his children and working, while pursuing his passions, which included remodeling his home, cooking, watching HGTV, studying architecture, riding his Harley, and being a news junkie. He had a thirst for learning, teaching himself whatever he needed to know by watching You-Tube videos and reading books. He often was referred to as a “Renaissance Man,” and through his newfound knowledge he became a designer, chef, videographer and more, never limiting himself to new opportunities in which to excel.

Henry loved his family, and poured his heart and soul into his children. In them, he saw himself, carefully adjusting their sails, helping them reach their fullest potential like many of the cadets he trained. He enjoyed mentoring people, encouraging them to think outside the box, and aim high. He had an ability to get along with everyone who crossed his path, including those who could not help themselves. Stray animals became pets, turtles crossed the road in his care, and stink bugs he’d freed continued stinking for one more day.

Henry and Sandy’s chance encounter on-line in 1998 led to an enduring friendship and marriage, resulting in a total of 20 years together, ultimately residing in Chantilly, Virginia. They based their successful partnership on observations of their own parents’ marriages, working together and performing routine tasks no matter how non-traditional. Their favorite activity was simply being together, laughing, caring for their children, and talking, even if it meant by text; the irony being the written word was how their relationship had begun.

Henry’s consistent message to anyone who listened, particularly young people, was to travel and take as many pictures as possible; to shoot for the moon, and if you miss, land among the stars.

Survivors include his wife and two children; a brother, Malcolm B. Norcom of Atlanta, Georgia, and three sisters, Evelyn Loretta Norcom Burton of Fairfax, Virginia, Janet Vera Norcom of Arlington, Virginia, and Carmel Gloria (“C.G.”) Norcom of Arlington, Virginia; a nephew, Brandon C. Burton of Arlington, Virginia, and a niece, Bianca K. and nephews, Miles B. and Grant C. Norcom of Atlanta, Georgia; a sister and brother-in law, Tamara Sue Nicoloff and Thomas G. Nicoloff, and nephews Jack T. and Ben G., and niece Audrey B. of Cincinnati, Ohio; other relatives; and a host of close friends.

Family, friends, and colleagues loved Henry. Persons he met for the first time found Henry to be engaging. He will be missed by all.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Combat Veterans Motorcycle Association, VA Chapter 27-2 in memory of Henry "Rakassan" Norcom. (The charity is to help those going through some personal issues, to include PTSD and TBI.)


  • Visitation Saturday, November 10, 2018
  • Funeral Service Saturday, November 10, 2018

Henry Charles Norcom Jr.

have a memory or condolence to add?

Jerry Isaac

January 6, 2019

I was on the rifle team at Hampton with Henry. We had great fun and also were in the ROTC program together. He was a great person.

Steven Zahniser

November 9, 2018

Henry worked as the civil rights officer at my workplace. One of his innovations was to use musical performances as a way to learn about people of different backgrounds. This was quite a revelation, because in many instances, the music sounded completely new, and it was a clear reminder that one really needs to work hard to know someone well. The decorations in Henry's office reflected his musical interests, but I suspected that he preferred to be outside his office, either to interact with others or just to avoid being penned in by four walls.

Without doubting the importance of his position at work, Henry recognized the continuing challenges of our country in the area of civil rights. One time, I called Henry because I had seen some airport security personnel treating a Muslim family of three in a fashion that I found to be unkind--removing them from the boarding line just before it was time for the plane to leave--during a period when the government was placing unusual scrutiny on visa holders from particular countries. In response to my concern, Henry reminded me of the mechanisms available for the family to lodge a protest, although he doubted that they would do so. He also underscored that the treatment that I had observed was not part of the America that he had sought to protect as a member of the armed forces.

Thank you, Henry, for your service. We will try to do right by the values you championed.

Patricia Englman

November 2, 2018

We met Henry/Rakassan through CVMA many years ago. The minute I met him, I felt his warmth and genuine personality. He was always very outgoing, friendly and had a very positive persona. Very sad that we do not have the chance to know him even better. But his obituary sums up a man who has lived a full and purposeful life. May his wife find comfort in knowing that she was married to a unique individual who gave all to life, his family and his country; and may his children continue to live the life he wanted for them.

Deidre Smith

October 31, 2018