Maryann Nora Cassidy
1952 – 2021
Longtime Santa Barbara resident Maryann Nora Cassidy passed away in Colbert, Washington after a battle with cancer. She was 68. She is survived by sons Brian Norris, Zachary Cassidy-Norris, and Matthew Cassidy-Norris, her ex-husband of 28 years, Wayne B. Norris, and by grandsons Drake and Dante Norris, Brian’s children. Zach and Matt were at her side.
Maryann was born in 1952 in the Ozone Park neighborhood of New York City to CPA and World War II US Army Gunnery Sergeant Tom Cassidy and former corporate secretary Mary Margaret Cassidy. The family moved to Northridge, California in 1960 and to Tarzana in 1967. As a high school student, she worked as a professional hairstyle model and as an electronics assembler.
Maryann married lunar research physicist Wayne B. Norris in 1971. The couple made their first home in Chatsworth and later moved to Isla Vista in 1973 and to Palisades Drive on the Mesa on the first day of 1975, where she would reside for 43 years.
Maryann served as a volunteer Santa Barbara County Sheriff for Search and Rescue, and in that role she successfully located a lost Boy Scout that other airborne spotters had failed to find, while serving as an airborne spotter herself in a USAF UH-1H “Huey” rescue helicopter dispatched from Vandenberg.
She enrolled in Chemistry at UCSB and received her Bachelor of Science degree in 1978. As an undergraduate, she performed research into the evolutionary origins of eukaryotic cells in the UCSB laboratory run by Professor Eduardo Orias. After graduation, she worked as a polymer chemist at Tecknit Technical Wire Products on Nopal Street and later as a physical chemist at Goleta’s Santa Barbara Research Center in the field of mercury-cadmium-telluride long-wave infrared detectors for military use until 1982. She would later work in industrial sales of spectrometers and other scientific instruments to the university educational and research communities, and also as a professional securities investor.
Maryann earned her FAA Private Pilot certificate and Instrument rating and delivered aircraft to numerous parts of the United States for her husband Wayne’s Cessna aircraft dealership. Her first child, Brian, spent many days of his first year “riding shotgun” in various aircraft. She performed test flights of the Rutan Vari-EZ aircraft, was an accomplished acrobatic pilot and sometime skydiver, and also enjoyed SCUBA diving. She and Wayne divorced in 1997.
Tragically, Maryann contracted Lyme Disease in 1973 from a tick bite, two years before it was understood by the Centers for Disease Control, and remained incorrectly diagnosed for 11 years as symptoms ominously progressed. She would battle Lyme Disease and its devastating consequences for the rest of her life.
Maryann sold her home of 43 years on the Mesa in 2018 and relocated to the Spokane, Washington suburb of Colbert in 2018, where she lived quietly until her bout with cancer.
No services are planned. Donations may be made in her memory to The Johns Hopkins Lyme Disease Research Center at https://secure.jhu.edu/form/lymedisease.