How Norm Gielda found his way home

Norm Gielda is a former Marine and law enforcement sergeant who served his country in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and the city of Santa Ana, California, as a law enforcement officer. After years of being away, Norm says he “found his way home” to the beautiful rolling hills of middle Tennessee.

Norm, please share the early years of your life.

I was born and raised in Bay City, Michigan. I probably had a false impression of the “California life,” but at age 22 I packed my truck and drove west. I landed in Orange County and decided to pursue a career in law enforcement.

How did this decision lead you to enlist in the Marines?

I was told I needed more life knowledge and knew military experience was beneficial in law enforcement. So at age 24, I enlisted in the United States Marine Corps Reserve and left for boot camp in San Diego. Once a Marine Reserve, I continued pursuing a law enforcement career and was hired in 1990 as a police recruit in Santa Ana.

Were you deployed?

No, but in early 1991 I was put on alert by the Marine Corps during the Desert Shield Campaign. The message was to put all personal, financial and legal affairs in order in preparation for deployment. It transitioned to Desert Storm and was over in what seemed like a few days. I served in the USMC until 1994, training and supervising subordinate Marines in using communication and radar equipment during live-fire training exercises.

Share your fondest memories in law enforcement.

During my 27 years, I was fortunate to have worked some great assignments — patrol, traffic (motorcycle officer), SWAT, investigator, patrol sergeant, honor guard sergeant and the best job — motor sergeant! I am blessed with several lifelong friendships.

What brought you to Nashville?

Teresa and I wanted to move. During one trip to Georgia visiting family, we drove to Tennessee and met up with a buddy of mine who retired to Franklin a few years earlier. It was uncanny how much we fell in love with Main Street. Later that afternoon Teresa said, “Norm, I think this is it.”

Where do you call home?

We live on 15 acres in Leiper’s Fork  — a mini-farm with lots of work – but the kind you don’t mind doing. It’s rewarding taking care of the land and animals — our horse, Moonshine; mule, Maizy; bloodhound, Belle; black lab, Blue; and red fox lab, Rylie. 

Tell us about The Davis General in Leiper’s Fork and you becoming the new proprietor.

We were looking for a business opportunity and realized the store had such a rich history that we want to honor. We’re jazzed to reopen as The Davis General in July — a place to get a delicious sandwich and a cola or just meet friends.

What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?

I am a student of the banjo and also enjoy sitting on the porch with a good cigar and a tumbler of great whiskey. I guess I was just a country boy trying to find his way home.


"I was told I needed more life knowledge and knew military experience was beneficial in law enforcement."