Grady Norrell was born in Opelika, Ala Jan. 28, 1922.
His childhood years and education were in Alabama, Mississippi & Louisiana. Under the guidance & tutelage of his father, George W. Norrell, Grady knew from an early age what he wanted his life’s work to be – he wanted to be a bridge builder.
He has never regretted choosing this occupation. He has worked in the industry for 65 years, and he is now in the process of guiding and directing the 3rd generation.
He first began his career with Harbert and Cargill in 1938, and in 1940 worked for the Moss-Thornton Company, followed by a stop with C. G. Kershaw in 1941-42.
Norrell enlisted in the United States Marine Corp. in 1942. After 32 months in the South Pacific, including campaigns at Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, Okinawa and occupied Japan, where he received the Purple Heart, Norrell returned home to Alabama in 1945. In 1946 he joined his father, George W. Norrell in the family business.
Soon after, he entered Ala. Polytechnic Institute, and earned a degree in Civil Engineering in 1949. In January, 1950, he officially joined the family bridge building company. In the beginning, he worked in the field for 5 years, and was brought into office in 1955 as general manager.
Norrell was soon responsible for 11 crews with over 200 employees. After 15 years on the road, in the field and in the office, Norrell became president of the company by purchasing it from his father.
G. W. Norrell Contracting Company continued to grow, and the company had a tremendous amount of success during this time period by completing many of the state’s large interstate highway contracts.
Today, the company still provides the State of Alabama with some of the finest bridge construction available as it works to rehabilitate county, state and interstate bridges.
Norrell was elected president of the Alabama Road Builders Association in 1968, and served several terms on the board of the American Road Builders Association and The Road Information Program – both national advocacy groups for America’s highway systems.
He was chairman of the administrative board of the First United Methodist Church both in Georgiana and Greenville. Norrell was chairman of the Greenville Water Board for 16 years, and in 2001, the Greenville Rotary Club honored him by naming him a Paul Harris Fellow for outstanding Civic service, the most coveted award in Rotary.
He is a dedicated supporter of the Auburn University College of Engineering and a life member of the Auburn Alumni Association. In 1993 he received an award for outstanding service as a member of the County Committee system that supports Auburn’s legislative efforts at the grass roots level.
In 2002, a bridge he constructed with his father in Georgiana, was named for him by resolution from the Alabama Legislature.
Norrell retired in 1991, and is married to Mary Charles (Charlie). They have two sons, two daughters, and seven grandchildren, and they reside in Greenville.