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James F. NORTON

1924 - 2013 In 1945, as he lay in a hospital bed in France recovering from wounds received in the Battle of the Bulge and aggravated by months in a German POW camp, Jim Norton wrote these words to his parents: "I'll never forget as long as I live when I saw that first Yank, I always said I'd kiss the first one I saw who liberated us, even if it were a 2nd Looie, and you guessed it, he was. He was more surprised than I, and I imagine it's the first time in history an officer has ever been kissed by an enlisted man . . . My biggest concern and something that has always been on my mind is how you two are and how the Missing in Action affected you. But you are both brave, strong parents, so I'm sure everything is all right. . . Death has faced me many times in the past months, and by the grace of my Lord and Savior I am here today to write this letter." As he had served his country as a young man, Jim Norton would go on to serve his family, friends, community and nation for 68 more active and eventful years. Born in St. Paul, Minnesota to John and Harriette Norton, he attended Cretin High School. Returning after the war he enrolled at the University of Minnesota on the GI bill and graduated with a degree in business and journalism. He rose through the insurance publishing ranks to become CEO of R&R Newkirk, Inc., of Indianapolis, which eventually became a division of ITT. Jim and his wife, Mary Alberts Norton of St. Paul, returned to Minnesota in 1980, living in Mendota Heights, where he became a management consultant. Jim and Mary began to spend time each summer at Eaton's Ranch in Sheridan, WY. Here, Jim learned to ride, and together they would take long rides into the Big Horn Mountains. They both fell in love with the West, and retired to Sheridan where Jim could play golf, Mary could ride, and they could together enjoy the mountains they had come to love and the many friends they had made over the years. Jim is survived by his beloved wife, Mary, his daughters Mary McConnell, Sarah Lawhorn, and Ann Norton, and stepdaughters Kate Hurson and Liz Fanning. To his 13 grandchildren and 4 great-grandchildren Jim was "Grandpa War Eagle," a bottomless fount of stories and fun. We will all miss him. A military burial service for Jim will be held at Fort Snelling on Friday, November 8 at 12:00 pm. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that donations be made to Volunteers of America Northern Rockies in Jim's honor. Please make checks payable to Volunteers of America Northern Rockies (VOANR) and mail to: Volunteers of America Northern Rockies, 1876 S. Sheridan Avenue, Sheridan, WY 82801.




Published in Pioneer Press on Nov. 5, 2013
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