Mr Norris was flying three of his grandkids, Mo, Evie and Otis, home in time to start their third term at school.
‘One of his attributes was his commitment to his family, and his family was just as committed to him,’ Dave explained.
‘If my kids feel about me the way I know Nick’s kids feel about him when it is my turn to leave, I will be a proud man.’
The friendship of Dave and Nick is like the tale of someone searching for their other half. Their bond as friends and workmates is something that will remain close to Dave forever.
Their first meeting goes back nearly 50 years to 1967 when they were in the Army Reserve. Dave was assigned as barman in the officers’ mess and Nick was the second person to walk through the door.
Nick was a higher rank but Dave was instantly drawn to his humanity as he treated him like an equal.
‘It was something that stayed with me all the way,’ he said.
Their paths crossed again when Nick was assigned as Dave’s tutor while he was studying education at Murdoch University.
Some time later, they both became principals of schools in regional WA. They left the Education Department about the same time and started working together.
‘He looked after what he called organisational development and I looked after what was called community development,’ Dave said.
‘Most of my work was with Aboriginal communities and probably about 10 years ago Nick’s interests started to go to that area.’
They started Collaborative Systemic Change, an organisation committed to working with people who want change in regional WA.
‘One of Nick’s attributes was his desire to help people who wanted to change. Provided they took the authority, responsibility and accountability for the actual change themselves, then he and I would walk with them into eternity if that was what was needed,’ he said.
Karen said their partnership was just ‘meant to be.’
‘For the last 21 years they have had a very close working relationship, they complemented each other. They were always after the same thing,’ she said.
‘Nick was a good listener and mentor to me. He was just a lovely man.
‘Dave and Nick had a relationship of mutual respect.’
Dave said one thing that stood out about Nick was his impeccable integrity, his capacity to treat all people equally irrespective of race, gender, religion.
‘What he saw in front of him was a person. That was it, and then he would deal with that person. He treated everyone fairly,’ he said.