Getting to know your neighbor

Keith D. Norwood was elected as the municipal judge for the city of Belen in 2021. He is also the football coach at Belen Middle School. His family includes daughter, Kassie Chavez; sons, Keith D. Norwood, Kyle D. Norwood and Christopher Gonzales; granddaughter, Hailey Chavez; and grandsons, Braylon Chavez and Adine Gonzales. 

Q What do you think about when you’re alone in your vehicle? 

A “There is a plethora of thoughts that are on mind when I’m alone in my vehicle. My thoughts are mainly on my family.  

“I think about my oldest brother, he was a Godsend. He had to help raise his four brothers and sister at a very early age, he didn’t have much of a childhood at all. He was a source of 

hope for us, he saw beyond the project we were living in and introduced us to a new world through education. I remembered when he graduated from Albany State College with a bachelor’s degree in psychology. I was so proud of him.” 

Q What myth about your profession you like to bust? 

A “Most of the public believe a judge may do whatever they want while hearing cases. Judges took an oath to uphold the United States Constitution, the New Mexico Constitution, judicial standards and city ordinances.  

“This will ensure that anyone entering the court shall be treated with respect and will receive a fair hearing based on the testimony and evidence of that case. All verdicts which are rendered are based solely on the facts and the law.” 

Q What were you like in high school? 

A “I knew I wasn’t one of the popular kids in school, many of the students didn’t know I existed back then. I didn’t talk that much; my twin brother did the talking for us. I was somewhat of a nerdy kid who loved to play sports. As a freshman, I became the starting fullback on the varsity football team, I was still considered a nerdy kid, and that was alright with me.” 

Submitted photo

Football has been in Norwood’s life since he was young. Pictured, from left are his brother, Kenneth Norwood; parents, Willie A. and Priscilla Norwood, and Keith Norwood. 

Q What is the best advice you’ve received and from whom? 

A “When I was attending New Mexico State University, I decide to pledge to become a member of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity. There was literature, poems and quotes you must remember and recite back to the big brothers of the fraternity. There is one saying that I will never forget, and I try to live by it every day. ‘Excuses are tools of the incompetent, which build monuments of nothingness; those who deal in their usage are very seldom capable of anything.’  

“‘Reasons are the tools that build a bright future. Never give yourself an excuse.’” 

Q What did you want to be when you grew up? 

A “I didn’t have a clue of what I wanted to be when I grew up. I knew I didn’t want to work on my grandfather’s farm, nor did I want to work with my father in his masonry business. When I was in college, I thought I had the best job in the world. I was a bartender at one of the local pubs. I was content and happy with that job. One day I was called into the office and told I was being let go. My world crumbled. I didn’t know what to do!  

“I remembered what my grandparents did every day and that was to pray. So got down on my knees and said, ‘God, I need a job so I can take care of my family.’ God sent me to work in the department of corrections for 25 years. He gave me more than I asked for. He gave me a career.” 

Q Who inspires you? 

A “There are several individuals throughout history that have inspired me, for example, New Mexico territorial Gov. Lew Wall, who wrote the novel ‘Ben Hur.’ George Washington Carver, botanist and the first black instructor at Iowa State University and Oscar S. Dunn. Out of the three individuals mentioned, Dunn is the one who inspired me the most. He was born into slavery in 1822. Once he obtained his freedom, he became the first black elected lieutenant governor of a state (Louisiana). He served from 1868 through 1871.” 

News-Bulletin file photo 

Keith Norwood has been the head coach of the Belen Middle School football team since last year. He honors his players with Athlete of the Game at the Belen City Council meetings. 

Q If you could work one job a day, what would it be? 

A “Being a baker is one of the most creative ways to express oneself. If you watch the baking shows of today, you will see that each dish is a work of art. They have created edible versions of the Guggenheim Museum, Eiffel Tower, London Bridge, Tower of London and the Statue of Liberty. You know this isn’t grandma’s kitchen anymore.  

“One thing about my grandmother’s baking, it was filled with love. She made the best buttermilk biscuits in the world. She also made her own syrup.” 

Q What do you do in your free time? 

A “I am addicted to the old 1930s, 1940s and 1950s black-and-white movies. The movies were well written, and you had to watch the entire movie to figure out the plot. Some of my favorite movies are, ‘In the Heat of the Night,’ ‘Breakfast at Tiffanys,’ ‘Bridge over River Kiwi,’ ‘Life with Father,’ ‘Maltese Falcon,’ ‘Gone with the Wind’ and ‘A Raisin in the Sun.’ I also enjoy reading suspense, mystery, crime, fantasy and science fiction novels.’ 

Q What is something about you that most people don’t know? 

A “I am a die hard archery fanatic. I love the science that is applied to archery. It is amazing what you can do with a string and a stick. I enjoy making my own arrows, making sure they are cut to proper length. Then I fletched (placing feathers on the shaft of the arrow) the shaft. Once I complete each arrow, I shoot each arrow to determine the speed of the arrow. In 2002, I went on an archery hunt and I shot an elk that was three-yards away.” 

Submitted photo

Keith Norwood was in the fourth grade at Charles Thomas Elementary School. It was the first time in Georgia he attended a nonsegregated school in 1970. 

Q What three books would you take with you on a deserted island? 

A “The first book I will take with me is the Bible. As a Christian, I know where my help comes from. I called upon the name of my God plenty of times and he has never let me down.  

“The second book I will have in my possession is a survival manual. If you’re on that deserted island you need to know how to start a fire, how to build a shelter, how to filter your water, and to determine which plants are poisonous.  

“And the third book will be the thesaurus/dictionary. If I’m on a desert island I will have plenty of time to fill my brain with useful knowledge.” 

Q You find a lottery ticket that ends up winning $10 million. What will you do with it? 

A “If that ticket has been signed off on, I must return it to the proper owner. If it was left blank, I would cash it in. Upon receiving the $10 million, I would create a trust fund for my children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Then I would donate money to my favorite charities, and the last thing I would do is invest in my community.” 

Q Who is your best friend and why? 

A “Pastor Greg McPherson and Deacon Jerry Baca are very good friends. They care about my wellbeing. When I’m wrong, they will let me know that I’m wrong. True friends will always encourage you to seek your dreams and to live your life to the fullest.” 

Submitted photo

Keith Norwood hugs his twin brother, Kenneth. 

Q What is your favorite song to sing when you’re alone? 

A “I love listening to the music from the 1970s. Some of my favorite bands and singers are John Denver, The Bee Gees, Electric Light Orchestra, Dusty Springfield, Rod Stewart, Jim Croce, all of Motown and Redbone. The song I love to sing is, ‘I’m Leaving on a Jet Plane,” written by John Denver and performed by Peter, Paul, and Mary.” 

Q Where is your happy place and why? 

A “My happy place is my home. Before I enter my house, I try to leave everything that is negative outside. In my house, I find comfort, peace, hope and joy. In my house, I renew myself to face the world. In my home, there are joyful memories of loved ones who have died. In my house, I find peace of God hovering over me.” 

Q Have you ever had a life-changing experience that led you to where you are today? 

A “I found myself broken, drained, hurt, lost, weak, confused and rejected. In 2002 and 2016, these were the years that my sons passed away.  I wasn’t the man I thought I was. Instead of being independent, I became dependent. Instead of having life in me, I felt like I was dead inside. The death of my sons had a great impact on me spiritually, mentally and physically. All I know is this: the only reason I got through these heart-breaking events was by the grace of God.” 

Q What teacher had the greatest impact upon you? 

A “There were several teachers that inspired me. Ms. Proctor my seventh grade English teacher. Ms. Foster, my sixth grade math teacher. Ms. Corral, my fifth grade social studies teacher and Mr. Smith my sixth grade home room teacher. Ms. Monk my sixth grade social studies teacher was special, she went beyond the call of duty. She made the class exciting, and I was eager to learn. It wasn’t enough for you to give her the correct answer, she wanted you to understand the importance of the answer.”  

Submitted photo

Keith Norwood’s family includes his son, Christopher Gonzales, front left, daughter, Kassie Chavez, left; son, Keith D. Norwood Jr., center, and son, Kyle D. Norwood, right. 

Q What are your favorite movie scenes and why? 

A “There are two favorite movies scenes I want to talk about. The first movie scene comes from the 1967 classic, ‘Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,’ starring Sidney Poitier, Katherine Hepburn and Spencer Tracy. Poitier was talking to his father, who couldn’t understand why Sydney fell in love with a woman outside of his race. The father was concerned for his son’s safety, and he wanted him to break up with his girlfriend and return to the colored side of town. Sidney stated unto his father you see yourself as a colored man, I just see myself as a man.  

“The second scene derives from the 1947 movie, ‘Life with Father,’ starring William Powell and Irene Dunn. 

“In the movie, Powell, who played the father, was in search of another maid because the previous maid had quit. He entered the maid service to hire another maid and the manager stated to him that she had to interview everyone in the house to determine the character of his home. He looks deeply into the manager’s eyes and stated, ‘Madame, I am the character of my house.’” 

Q If you could have dinner with one famous person dead or alive who would it be? 

A “It would be Martin Luther King Jr. This man brought people of all colors to stand against the injustice that was plaguing our nation at that time. He was a man of faith and action; he wasn’t afraid to go into the enemy’s territory. If I could ask Mr. King one question it would be the following: You knew you were going to die, why did you keep fighting?”  

Q What are you most proud of? 

A “When I obtained my college degree from New Mexico State University, it was a proud moment for me. I believe I sent a copy of my diploma to everyone in my family. I remember my prayer and I stayed on the course. Thank God.” 

Submitted photo

Keith Norwood’s children, Kassie, Keith and Kyle.

Q How would you like to be remembered? 

A “As a father, grandpa, brother and friend. Your life will only have worth if you put others before yourself. Let my stone have this engraving etch deeply into it. Here lies Keith Norwood; he tried to do his best.” 

Submitted photo

Keith Norwood was the starting fullback at Kilgore Junior College in Kilgore, Texas, in 1979. 

Submitted photo

Keith Norwood was a member of the football team at Kilgore Junior College. The team won the National Championship in 1978, and Norwood started in 1979.

What’s your Reaction?

The Valencia County News-Bulletin is a locally owned and operated community newspaper, dedicated to serving Valencia County since 1910 through the highest journalistic and professional business standards. The VCNB is published weekly on Thursdays, including holidays both in print and online.