Tonda Gorton, former staff member of the AZ Commission on the Arts, succumbed to M.S. on Nov. 23 in Hingham, Mass., at age 82. Born in Binghamton, N.Y., she was raised nearby in Sanataria Springs, where her grandfather was mayor and postmaster. She attended nursing school in Syracuse, and while working in a local hospital she met a pre-medical student, Bernie Gorton, who had emigrated in 1938 from Austria to escape the Nazis. They married in 1951 and by 1957 were raising four boys, finally moving to AZ in 1960. When Bernie died less than a year later, Tonda embarked on a secretarial career, joining the Arts Commission in 1973. She moved up quickly, serving as Legislative Liaison, Public Information Officer, Newsletter Editor, and Literature Coordinator. In the latter role, she became career-facilitator, supporter, and friend, to many of the leading southwestern writers of the day. In 1976, she was diagnosed with M.S., but persisted in her impassioned and productive work with the Commission. She retired in 1996, and then volunteered as Librarian at Beth El, where she converted to Judaism in 1998. She moved back East in 2007 to be closer to her sons, who survive her, along with seven grandchildren, and one great-grandchild. A Remembrance Gathering will be held at Frank and Albert's in the Sunroom at the Biltmore on Feb. 2, 2013, 2-5PM. Memorial donations may be made to Rabbi Rick Sherwin's Discretionary Fund, Temple Beth Am, PO Box 915756, Longwood, FL 32791-5756.
Published in The Arizona Republic on Dec. 9, 2012