May 21, 1926 - July 16, 2013
It is with a mixture of pride, joy, and sadness that the family of George Edward Charles Norton announce his passing on July 16, 2013 at the age of 87, after a valiant battle with cancer.
George was born across the pond in London, England, on May 21, 1926, the third child of Sydney Godsmark Norton and Esther Levy Norton. His parents both passed away when George was fairly young, so he lived and studied at the historic Jewish Orphanage in West Norwood, London. During the London blitz George was billeted at a family's home in Worthing, on England's south coast, and then lived with family in the Salford area of greater Manchester as a young man. When he wasn't travelling around the country supporting the Bury football club or enjoying a pint of Watneys at the corner pub, he studied engineering. Just a tad too young to see action in the Second World War, he served in the Royal Irish Fusiliers. In 1948, he set sail along with many other young professionals to chase his dreams in the States, settling in Los Angeles.
Just a year later George was introduced to native Angelena Marilyn Nathan, and after she deciphered his still thick accent, the rest is a 60 year- plus love story. They married at the famous Ambassador Hotel on May 28, 1950. Marilyn and George celebrated their affection in style, ringing in 50 years at the Paris Las Vegas and just a few years ago, 60 years surrounded by family and friends in Riverside. They travelled extensively together, enjoying such locales as George's native Britain, Amsterdam, France, Alberta's Banff National Park, New Orleans, and Washington DC. They lived nearly 50 years on Citrus Avenue in the Hancock Park neighborhood of Los Angeles before relocating to Riverside. Marilyn predeceased him in the fall of 2011, after George lovingly and faithfully devoted so much of his energy to be by her side and care for his lifelong partner.
Speaking of the Paris Las Vegas: George's many decades as a preeminent structural engineer, first with Henry M. Layne and Associates and thereafter with John A. Martin and Associates, was capped by three crowning achievements: the landmark Eiffel Tower at the Paris Las Vegas on the Strip (winner of the Structural Engineers Association of California Excellence in Structural Engineering Award in 1999 and the National Council of Structural Engineers Association Engineering Merit Award in 2001); seismic retrofit improvements to UCLA
's iconic Royce Hall (winner of the SEAOC Superior Structural Engineering Excellence Award in 1996 and the California Preservation Foundation Design Award in 1999); and the Walt Disney Concert Hall (winner of many awards, including the SEAOC Excellence in Structural Engineering Awards for Best use of New Technology in New Construction and for Excellence in Landmark Structures in 2004). George was one of the nation's preeminent experts at retrofitting vulnerable Southern California buildings for seismic safety, having worked on such notable projects as to ready Santa Anita racetrack for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic games and many of UCLA's parking structures. After the 1994 Northridge earthquake, the only voice who could give the all-clear green light for hospitals such as St. John's in Santa Monica to re-open to serve a community desperately in need was George's.
George spent many of his happiest moments spending time with his immediate family whom he loved so much. George is survived by his daughter Meredith and son-in-law Randall Davis of Martinez, California; their two daughters Kimberly Anne and Allyson Rose; his son Mitchell and daughter-in-law Irena of Corona, California; and their four children Samuel Nathan, Christina Elisabeth, Benjamin Edward, and Bianca Annaliese. George also enjoyed staying in touch with close family members Rebecca Campbell, his first cousin, of Canoga Park, and Sydney Norton, his younger brother, of Dingwall, Scotland. George's two older sisters, Rita Smith and Peggy Tweedie, precedeased him.
An accomplished watercolorist, George spent many a happy afternoon over the decades camped out with no more than an easel, palette, and a sandwich, capturing the essence of many beautiful seascapes and gardens from Coastal California to Washington DC's Tidal Basin. He studied at the Boddy House art gallery at La Canada's Descanso Gardens and before long was teaching his own master classes to appreciative residents at Valencia Terrace in his last adopted home, Corona.
George was an extraordinary spirit. Living the essence of one of his mantras, "bash on regardless", he fought on like a warrior after his cancer diagnosis in August of last year, living on to enjoy the company of his grandchildren for many more months than most medical professionals had predicted. Anything but the stereotype of the reserved Englishman, George had an effervescent personality and a remarkable facility to relate to and connect with folks in all facets of his life. He was just as comfortable debating the prospects for a dream season for Manchester United with the Icelandic-born physical therapist who helped looked after Marilyn as he was going toe to toe with mercurial architect Frank Gehry about the latest whimsical idea for Disney Hall.
George undoubtedly would want his family to celebrate his life in the revered tradition of the New Orleans jazz funeral rather than grieve in mourning for his passing. His family is confident he is now by Marilyn's side watching reruns of All Creatures Great and Small, with Marilyn no doubt needling him as to why it took him so long to join her.
In lieu of flowers, please donate to oneworldfutbol.com
in George's honor. This organization is dedicated to using the power of the beautiful game to heal and bring people together the world over by providing indestructible soccer balls to kids in disadvantaged communities. Nothing would make George happier.
George's family will host a memorial in his honor at Riverside's Acheson and Graham Garden of Prayer this Thursday, September 12, 2013, at 10am.