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James Norcross

James Warrack "Jay" Norcross Jr.

Tuesday, August 7th, 1928 - Thursday, February 4th, 2021
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Obituary

James ”Jay” Warrack Norcross Jr. peacefully passed on February 4, 2021 in his home with his wife Marilyn and daughter Renee by his side after many years of navigating the challenges of Parkinson’s Disease. Jay was born August 7, 1928, to Warrack and Helen Norcross in Greeley Colorado. He had one sister, the late Betty Jo Norcross Willson.

The Norcross family came to Greeley in the late 1800’s. Jay’s Grandfather, Fred Norcross, was a State Senator, State Representative, served as Greeley Chamber of Commerce President and board member for 12 years, playing a key role in advancing the economic growth in Greeley.

Jay’s parents, Warrack and Helen Norcross owned and operated the original Warnoco Amusement Park at 1403 2nd Street. Prior to Warnoco, Warrack was a sports promoter and entrepreneur. Helen was a college graduate of CSCE – now UNC. She taught elementary school in the Greeley area.

From 1921-2004, Warnoco served the Greeley and the surrounding community with its dancing hall, swimming pool, miniature golf course and roller skating rinks. Warnoco provided wholesome fun and built champions too.

During the 1930-1940 Warnoco brought top talent into Greeley, including Lawrence Welk and his “Biggest Little Band” who performed for live audiences in Warnoco’s Dance Hall each summer for three years. Live big band music at Warnoco Amusement Park was also broadcast on Greeley’s KFKA radio, so dancer or non-dancer, Greeleyites who owned “radio sets” could tune in to the latest big band dance music.

In 1948 Norcross’ built a second and larger skating rink, consisted of nearly one-half acre under roof with a curved hardwood skating floor that became the “best skating floor in the nation”.

Jay graduated from Greeley High School in 1946 and was a student at University of Colorado where he was affiliated with Delta Tau Delta fraternity. He completed his Bachelor’s Degree from Colorado State CSCE – now UNC.

Jay was the only skater to win the senior men’s national championship three times, holding the title in 1947, 1948, and 1950. In 1950 he won four American championships, senior men’s free style, figures, pairs, and fours, setting a record never to be broken. Jay was the first person to land a double axel in competition on roller skates in 1950. Because his jumps were in the two feet high range, he was considered the best jumper on roller skates in the U.S.

Alongside his wife and life-long partner, together Jay and Marilyn served their local and national community as owners and operators of Warnoco Entertainment Centers for over three decades. Known for their innovation, high standards, and family values in the entertainment aspects as well as the competitive athletics side of roller skating.

As a servant leader, Jay was known for his kind and loving heart, thought leadership, sense of humor, goal-oriented
approach to life, appreciation of athletic activities and for his passion for teaching others.

Jay selflessly accepted the role of being “a second father” and “best friend” to many of his students, who went on to embody Jay’s lessons into their lives for decades to come. He developed skaters into champions, many of them national champions, and students into lifelong friends. His character, conduct and commitment to athleticism and fitness inspired people to set new levels for themselves, and to “have fun” doing it.

From the mid-1940’s -1958 Jay created the “Skating Follies” similar to Ice Capades. Drawing crowds of 950 per night to enjoy the entertaining and intricate production. Helen Norcross, Jay’s mother, hand-made 270 elaborate costumes. There were 135 cast members, including Marilyn. Jay was the star performer and member of the cast. From 1950-1954 Jay also sponsored a skating show production, The Gail Gibson Fallies, to raise money for the March of Dimes.

Jay was known for his signature style of teaching including musically interpretative intricate footwork and a unique jumping technique. As a teaching duo, Marilyn specialized in teaching the mental aspects of competitive skating. Their complimentary styles provided a winning formula, bringing skaters from across the United States to train under them.
Jay and his wife Marilyn were industry leaders in creating fund-raising programs for local schools and churches. Students were bussed into Greeley for skating parties from rural towns across Northern Colorado. Jay and Marilyn were recognized by Jerry Lewis for their annual contributions to Muscular Dystrophy raising community awareness and drawing support of the Denver Broncos through their 24-hour skate-a-thons. Greeley made the largest financial contribution to MD in the United States during one of the skate-a-thons. Norcross’ supported Special Olympics by providing a venue for competitions, skating lessons and employment.

For over 47 years, Warnoco hosted the nation’s third largest annual regional skating tournament, the Rocky Mountain State Meet, offering both artistic and speed skating competition for hundreds of athletes to participate.

Jay and Marilyn went from being skaters and coaches to rink operators when they took over ownership of Warnoco North from 1972 to its closing in 1996. In 1981, Jay and Marilyn opened an additional rink, Warnoco West on West 20th Street in service of providing a modern, safe and fun facility for the community to come together. On opening night and for many nights to come, they entertained over 800 people per session.

Jay was elected to the Roller Skating Hall of Fame, a well-deserved tribute in recognition of his outstanding success, as an Owner, Operator and Instructor.

Jay was a man who loved life. He enjoyed spending time with family and friends, mogul skiing, fly fishing and traveling with his wife. He was an avid reader, a lover of nature and animals. Jay’s life-time commitment to keeping up his athletic and passionate spirit was demonstrated in countless ways.

His first time ever on a surfboard in Hawaii, Jay proudly stayed on his surfboard for over eight seconds, at age 77. After recovering from a broken femur, he achieved his goal to snow ski again, at age 84.

On October 20, 2019, John Gates, Mayor of the City of Greeley proclaimed October 20th Jay and Marilyn Norcross Day.

Jay was able to stay ahead of Parkinson’s in many ways by pushing himself to maximize his mind and his body. In early December 2020 before his health took a dramatic turn, Jay was walking the track and lifting weights at Work Out West, at age 92.

In August 2020, Jay and Marilyn celebrated their 63rd anniversary in Saratoga, Wyoming; both agreeing, it was like a honeymoon all over again. Initially, had people placed bets on Norcross’ marriage not lasting one year.

One of Jay’s last wishes that he shared with wife Marilyn and daughter Renee was “I wish I had a bigger heart so I could love the two of you more.”

Jay is survived by his wife Marilyn; daughter Renee Norcross; daughter Michelle Norcross; niece Cynthia Norcross Willson; and cousin Robert Norcross.

The family is deeply grateful for the exceptional care, expertise and kindness Jay received from Accent Hospice.
In lieu of flowers, please make contributions to “Parkinson’s Foundation”, “Boys & Girls Club of Greeley” or “A Woman’s Place” in care of Adamson, 2000 47th Ave., Greeley, CO 80634. Jay was a private and humble man, in honor of his wishes, there will not be a service. Friends may leave condolences at AdamsonCares.com.
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Michael Jacques

Posted at 02:45pm
We have lost a great one in Jay. He lived life to the fullest and always helped his fellow man.
The stories and events of his life are endless. His skating techniques were brilliant as shown with Mary Sue and many others.
I remember him pushing a shopping cart down the street in Lincoln with Marilyn in it! And his scary story of hair replacement.
My sincere condolences to the family. A skating friend......Michael Jacques
JD

Joan Dreyer

Posted at 10:04am
Fond memories of our trip to see Circus Soleil and Jays joke about a Mug wump . So sorry Marilyn. Hugs😔 Joan

Luther Bernstein

Posted at 07:51pm
Picture from Mid 1980's of Jay Norcross, Marilynn Norcross & Luther Bernstein
Snow Sking at VAIL Those were the days !

Jay --- Thanks for all the Memories and Skating Knowledge that you Shared with me

You were the Greatest Skater and Coach it was my Honor to have Known

Sincerely

Luther Bernstein

www.Interskate.net

Email --- Luther@Interskate.net

Cell --- 214-794-0453

TK

Tracy Kapaun

Posted at 04:47pm
Renee and family- I am so very sorry for your loss. My thoughts and prayers are with you all. He sounded like an extraordinary man. Tracy Kapaun
JV

John Viola

Posted at 06:07pm
"Jay W", as we all called him, was a breadth of fresh air whenever we saw him. He always had a smile and was a great conversationalist. Jay was one of the first innovators of our sport and past on his knowledge to his skaters. There wasn't anyone who could jump as high as "Jay W"!

The skating world has lost someone special and I have lost a friend.
John "Chili" Viola
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