Skip to main content

David Ray Norsworthy

Ph.D. ‘61


After graduation form LSU in 1954, I served two years as a Lieutenant in the Chemical Corps, stationed at Rocky Mountain Arsenal in Denver. Then, having decided to become a sociologist, I enrolled at UNC Chapel Hill- after one semester entering the graduate program. During 1957-1959 I was a Graduate Student Assistant to Professor Rupert Vance- a role which was immensely beneficial to me. Under Professor Vance’s tutelage, I wrote a Master’s Thesis on internal Migration for my M.A. in 1959 (Later I name a son Vance after this professor I admired so much).

A word about a fellow graduate student in sociology who was my office mate during those years: He was Josef Perry, a Texan and scintillating office companion and intellectual influence.

Influenced by another admired professor (Richard Simpson), I decided in 1959 to continue graduate work in sociology, joining his research project- a sample survey of occupational mobility among workers in two nearby communities. Under Simpson’s direction, I complete my PhD in 1961. My dissertation I titled “Mobility Effects of Industrial Growth”.

Some months before I completed my doctorate (Spring 1961), I had been offered (and accepted) a position in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tulane University in New Orleans. My family and I took up residence in New Orleans in early June 1961.

Above I have identified several people who strongly influenced me while I was a graduate student in Chapel Hill. There were several others, but here I shall mention one more professor- Daniel O. Price, who taught statistics and also influenced me to minor in statistics and mathematics at UNC.

I was employed at Tulane for three years. During this period I coauthored two articles, one with Richard Simpson on Occupational Mobility, the other with Munro Edmonson (Anthropologist at Tulane) on Industry and Race in the Southern United States.

I left Tulane for a position at the University of Michigan in 1964. There soon followed two additional moves- first, after one year at Michigan I spent three years teaching at Colorado Woman’s College in Denver, after which I moved again, this time to Whitman College in Walla Walla, Washington. I suppose one might say that I found a home at this Northwest liberal arts college, for I stayed until my retirement twenty-five years later.

About my research interest- during these years while I’ve lived in the Northwest, I continued to be interested in things Southern, but with a new accent (!!!). Specifically, I cooperated with sociologists and other scholars in the study of what was happening during the last decades of the twentieth century within the Southern Baptist denomination. The culmination of this work was my chapter in a book titled Southern Baptists Observed: Multiple Perspectives on a Changing Denomination, edited by Nancy Ammerman. University of Tennessee Press, 1993. The title of my chapter is “Rationalization and Reaction Among Southern Baptists”. As the title indicates, I apply a Weberian perspective to the problem of understanding conflict between bureaucrats and evangelistic preachers.

I married Claire Cameron, a native Wyoming, in the summer of 1957, one semester into my graduate studies in sociology at UNC- Chapel Hill.

Claire and I had four children, of whom three- Scott, Ruth, and Vance, survive. Ruth has two children and three grandchildren. Vance has two children.

Sadly, I must report that my dear Claire died suddenly in April 2012. During the decades of my teaching career, not only was she a beloved wife and mother, but also for the most of the period was a much-appreciated employee in a variety of administrative and secretarial positions wherever the two of us happened to be located at the time.

I can be contacted at:

1049 Francis Ave

Walla Walla, WA 99362

Ph. 509-525-5448

Submitted: October 2015