- April 26, 1933 - March 24, 2017
- Columbia, South Carolina
of Norman's Passing
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COLUMBIA - Norman James Norton died on Friday, March 24, 2017 at Palmetto Health Baptist Hospital in Columbia, S.C.
He was born in Du Quoin, IL on April 26, 1933, the oldest son of James Harlan Norton and Helen Riley Norton. He grew up in Cutler, IL where his family ran Norton's Store, a family owned general store that operated in Cutler from 1908 until 1968. He attended Pinckneyville Community High School and graduated from Trico Senior High School in Campbell Hill, IL, where he played basketball and baseball.
Norm held a B.S. degree in Biology from Southern Illinois University in Carbondale, IL and M.S. and PhD. degrees in Palynology from the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis, MN. Prior to college, Norm served for four years in the United States Air Force during the Korean conflict. He was assigned to the United States Security Service in Edinburgh, Scotland for three years. It was during this time that he married his wife Bettie Greer, and they were married for 61 years.
His professional career included twenty-eight years in higher education where he served in the positions of Professor of Biology and Department Chairman (Hope College, Holland, MI), Biology Department Chairman, Acting Vice President for Academic Affairs, and Acting Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences (Ball State University, Muncie, IN), and Vice President of Academic Affairs and Provost of the University (Indiana University of PA), Indiana, PA.
Norm was a very popular professor and received several awards during his career including the Hope College Distinguished Professor Educator award and the Outstanding Young Scientist award from the Michigan Academy of Arts, Sciences and Letters. He was active in several professional societies including the Botanical Society of America and the American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologists, where he was recognized with the Association's Distinguished Service Award. Norm was the Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the American Association of Stratigraphic Palynologist Foundation and retained that position until 2015.
During his career in higher education, Norm also served as a geologic consultant to Gulf Oil Company, and he and the family spent many wonderful summers in Houston, TX. In 1983, he left higher education and joined Gulf as Supervisor of the Palynology Section of the Exploration group in Houston. In 1984, Chevron Oil Company merged with Gulf, and Norm was transferred as a Staff Geologist to Chevron Overseas Petroleum, Inc. in San Ramon, CA. In 1991 he was promoted and transferred back to Houston as Supervisor of the Biostratigraphy Section of the Exploration Company. Shortly thereafter he was appointed the Exploration Department's Division Geologist, a position he held until his retirement in 1998.
In 1998, Norm and Bettie retired to Kiawah Island, SC and built their retirement home. On Kiawah, Norm was active in several Community Association committees and was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Kiawah Conservancy, where he chaired the Natural Habitat Conservation Committee, and served as Chairman of the Conservancy Board of Trustees from 2003 - 2005.
Norm was an active member of the John's Island Presbyterian Church where he chaired a number of Task Forces and Committees and served as an Elder on the Church Session.
Norm loved sports. He was an avid tennis player and was always up for a game of pickup basketball. The family enjoyed many ski vacations together and while living in Holland, Norm spent many hours skiing with his family at Carousel Mountain, where he was a member of the ski patrol.
Norm's parents, brother Charles, and an infant daughter, Jamie Lynn Norton, predeceased him. He is survived by his wife, Bettie Greer Norton; son, Matthew Norton (Linda) of Sullivan’s Island, S.C.; daughter, Jane Beach (John) of Columbia; and four grandchildren, Matthew, Jr. and Michelle Norton of Sullivan's Island, S.C. and Norrie and Katie Beach of Columbia.
A private celebration of life will take place at a future date. Memorial donations may be made to the Kiawah Conservancy, 80 Kestral Court, Kiawah Island, SC 29455 or the John's Island Presbyterian Church, 2550 Bohicket Road, John's Island, SC 29455. Dunbar Funeral Home, Devine Street Chapel, is assisting the family.