Norman Preston was born on May 11, 1922, in Dallas County, Selma, Alabama to the late Frank Preston and Phoebe (Brown) Preston. He was the third born of four siblings, all of whom preceded him in death: Henry, George and Josephine. He married Mary Stewart in 1942 and five children were born of that union: the late Norma Jean Jackson, Dr. Christeen Allen (Patrick), Harold Blake Preston, Bernita Louise Gissler (Hansrudolf), Ann Renee Mobley (Whitney); five grandchildren: Marc E. Smith (Traci), Marci E. Smith, Melanie A. Cobb, Gil Scott Keyes and Brian C. Phillips; nine great grandchildren and six nieces and nephews, including a special nephew, John D. Harris (Barbara), who he helped to raise; and many grandnieces and nephews . His second wife Viola Preston preceded him in death. He is survived by his third wife Lillie (Boney) Preston, and six stepchildren. James Brown may have been the hardest working man in show business, but Norman Preston was the hardest working man period!
Among his many accomplishments, in 1945 Norman was drafted into the military during World War II. He was one of the original African Americans chosen to integrate the Marine Corp. These recruits were segregated from white recruits and trained at Montford Point, which is now named Camp Johnson. While enlisted, he served as a Military Policeman and attained the rank of Private First Class before he was honorably discharged at the end of the war in 1946. In 2012, these original African American Marines were honored for their contribution to the Marine Corp and to their country when they were awarded the Congressional Gold Medal. The pride that he had in his service to his country is reflected in his long and faithful involvement with the Montford Point Marine Association. He is a true example of the saying, “Once a Marine, always a Marine”. In addition to family, he has a host of friends, colleagues and countless others whose lives he has touched, left to mourn his passing.
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