Mr. Norise “Rabbit” Key was born November 14, 1935, to Mr. Dewey Key and Ms. Estella “Della” Clark in Jackson, Madison County, Tennessee. Rabbit departed this side of life on Thursday, May 6, 2021 in Jackson, Tennessee.
As a young black boy growing up in the 1950s, Norise only attended school for a brief period of time. Taken out of school to work; young “Rabbit” was not afforded the opportunity to learn to read or write. However he did learn how to spell his name, and count that money. God blessed him with a special gift, a great talent in the early automotive industry. While working in a body shop as a helper, a customer brought a huge semi truck with burnt wiring in the shop for repairs. After trying all over town and dozens of repair men saying it was not repairable and would never run again, this young black helper said to the owner, he could fix it. The shop owner didn't believe him, but told him to get whatever he thought he needed to fix it. Young Norise stayed late re-wiring the semi and left with the keys in his pocket. The next morning when he came to work, the owner asked if he knew where the keys were because the customer was there to haul it off. Young Norise gave the owner the keys and told him to try the ignition. As soon as the engine cranked, white smoke billowed from those smoke stacks. Norise excelled to become one of the fastest and best black auto body repair men in West Tennessee at the time; thus coining the nickname “Rabbit”. He soon became owner of Norise Key Body Shop. He was known for his slick paint jobs and fast body work. Vehicles would go in wrinkled and come out like a freshly pressed suit. That would allow him to provide for his family until he retired almost ten years ago.
“Rabbit” was a member of Rock Temple Church where he married his soul mate, the love of his life, Mary Lou Hill. They had one witness, Mary’s sister-in-law, Mrs. Vada Hill. They later became members of New St. Luke on Labelle (Rev. C. H. Murphy). Then in 1981, they became members of Cumberland Missionary Baptist Church.
“Rabbit” leaves to cherish his memory, his wife of fifty-nine years, Mary Key; two daughters: Lenora (Bobby) Wood and Renee (Kelvin) Streeter; two grandchildren: Ginikki Durr and Brandon (Sharla “B”) Key; five great-grandchildren: Joshua Durr, Jr., Brayden, Bryleigh, Brooklyn, and Bryanna Key; two Godchildren: April Lynn Brooks and Dexter Johnson; one God-grandchild, Madelyn Brooks.