Born into the Great Depression and brought up during World War II, Norman H. Stark ’59 was raised with two sisters and one brother in Erie, Pennsylvania. His father worked at the Hammermill Paper Company and walked to work everyday, – while his mother ran the house and insisted that the kids received an education.
With roots of being Pennsylvania, Dutch, the four kids went to St. Ann’s for Church and grade school, as Stark and his siblings would eventually go on to explore higher studies as they grew older.
“I met my wife when we were fourteen and we were dating seriously throughout high school, and certainly through college. By the time we were at Gannon we knew we were going to marry. So, I chose Gannon because it was like a continuation of Cathedral Prep and it was in Erie near my fiance’,” said Stark. Unbeknownst to him, Stark’s decision to attend Gannon would be the start of a 30-year family legacy of Gannon graduates, with five of his family members earning their degrees there as well.
Hoping to one day attend law school, Stark worked long hours to fund his education. He spoke of beginning his career as a paperboy and working many jobs after.
“I sold ladies shoes at Bert’s Shoe Store part time, and then I worked on the New York Central Railroad as a brakeman, and as a fireman, and also as a clerk telegrapher,” he said.
Upon studying at Gannon, Stark declared political science as his major with a minor in economics. He also pursued a career as an Army Officer in the ROTC program at Gannon as well.
Speaking of his college career, Stark said, “I remember the very first day I was in the liberal arts program. Monsignor Nash called the seven of us [trainees] in that program into his office. He said, “Look guys I can’t tell you what kind of job you’re going to have when you get out of here, but I can tell you with the liberal arts program you’re going to be the most well educated when you get out.”
Stark would later graduate with a Bachelor of Arts degree from Gannon in 1959. He then served two years in the Army Reserves as an officer, in which he assisted the military in recruiting. He later earned his Juris Doctorate in 1962 from the University of Notre Dame and earned Admission to the Bar in Indiana that year, and to the Bar in Pennsylvania in 1965.
When asked what the former attorney valued most, Stark mentioned that it was important to have a strong value system.
“It starts with taking good care of your body because you only have one; growing your mind because it’s unlimited in its capacity and you can really do great things with a great mind; [and being] conscious of the people around you…,” he said.