Norman Everett Sykes
December 26, 1928 – May 1, 2021
Norman Everett Sykes, age 92, of Houston passed away peacefully at home on May 1, 2021. He was born on December 26, 1928 in Quincy, Illinois. His family moved to a 240-acre farm south of Anahuac, Texas when he was four. The son of a medical doctor/farmer, Norman spent the formative years of his life on that farm in Anahuac, camping, fishing, shooting guns, and participating in Boy Scouts. In school Norman’s extracurricular activities included participating in band and the choral club, and he loved music his entire life, especially classic country music like Hank Williams Sr. His love for classic country music was passed down to his children and grandchildren who enjoyed the family gatherings playing instruments and singing the old country music and hymns that Norman loved.
Norman’s interest in aviation began at a very early age while living on the farm where he often observed aircraft flying to and from Ellington Field across Galveston Bay. In high school, Norman participated in the Civil Air Patrol and took shifts watching for German U-Boats and enemy aircraft during WW II. He also took advantage of Anahuac High School’s unique aviation program where he had the opportunity to learn how to fly.
After graduating high school, Norman attended Lamar College as an engineer major for two years, working in the oilfields during the summers. He bought a 2-seat 1946 Taylorcraft BC12D and often flew family and friends all around Texas. Norman met his future wife, Linda McCanlies, in Anahuac and once, as a surprise, Norman landed his Taylorcraft on the narrow shell road behind the McCanlies’ house to take Linda flying. Norman and Linda went flying on many subsequent dates before Linda became Norman’s lifelong “co-pilot”.
As the conflict in Korea heated up, Norman enlisted in the Air Force, where he flew the T-6 Texan, T-28 Trojan, B-25 Mitchell, T-33 Shooting Star, F-94B Starfire, and F-89 Scorpion. He served a tour at Suwon Air Base, South Korea flying the F-94B, the Air Force’s first jet all-weather interceptor and first jet aircraft with an afterburner.
After his marriage to Linda in May 1954, Norman left the Air Force to begin his career as a commercial airline pilot. He flew for Trans Texas Airways, and its later incarnations, Texas International and Continental for his entire airline career. He logged approximately 30,000 flight hours in his aviation career, and was proud to have never damaged an aircraft (or injured a passenger) despite flying in severe weather conditions, enduring numerous in-flight aircraft malfunctions, and one attempted high-jacking. Norman mentored many young pilots, and those who knew him professionally held him in very high regard. He was known as a by-the-book pilot and was proud of that fact, and everyone who flew with him (co-pilots, flight engineers, and attendants) felt very safe with Norman at the controls.
Norman and Linda raised three sons and a daughter, and relished spending time as a family. He was a strong believer in education. With his encouragement and financial support, all three of his sons earned masters’ degrees. His daughter became a dental hygienist. He was very proud of their every accomplishment. Norman was extremely generous to his family and was always willing to help them any way he could. His love for flying, boating, playing basketball, and shooting rifles, was only surpassed by his love for his wife and family.
Late in life, he faced many health challenges but never complained. He always considered himself fortunate to have lived his childhood dream.
Norman is survived by his wife of 67 years, Linda McCanlies Sykes, his four children: son Richard Sykes and his wife Amanda Higgins, daughter Karen McElroy, son Kenneth Sykes and his wife Julie Bourgeois Sykes, and son Steve Sykes. In addition, Norman is survived by 6 grandchildren: Ryan Banks, Patrick Banks, Kevin Banks, Michael Banks, Kathryn Sykes Jaska and her husband Michael Jaska, and Steven Sykes and his wife Alex Vaio Sykes.
A Funeral Service will be held at American Heritage Funeral Home located at 10710 Veterans Memorial Drive, Houston, TX 77038 on May 18th, 2021 at 9:30 am.
In lieu of flowers, contributions may be made to the Children of Fallen Patriots Foundation.
9:30 am - 10:15 am
American Heritage Funeral Home
10:30 am - 11:00 am
Houston National CemeteryMasks are required by Houston National Cemetery
Norman Everett Sykes
May 10, 2021
It was an honor, pleasure and learning experience to know Norm for 50 plus years, great man, always even keel and nice. The Sykes family has been a part of my family since we move to Houston in the early 70's, little league football and basketball, Norm would gather us up and drive us to practice and deliver us home afterwards. Norm and Linda were ther when my mother passed and help me in many ways. I'm sorry to see him go but I'm sure we will meet again, Salute to you Mr. Sykes.