GREEN VALLEY, Ariz. -- James Neal Norton of Green Valley, Arizona, died peacefully on Jan. 22, 2018, surrounded by his loving family and the tranquility of the Arizona desert. He was 87.
James “Jim” Norton was born to William Wendell Norton and Catherine Hayden Norton on May 7, 1930, in Osceola. Jim and his brother William Hayden Norton would fondly recall their childhood over the years and their adoration for their parents, whom they nicknamed Honey and Pop. Weekends were spent at the family cabin in Ericson.
Jim met his high school sweetheart Elaine Ann Grossnicklaus while attending Osceola High School. The pair were married on Aug. 7, 1954, while Jim was attending his last year of law school at The University of Nebraska College of Law in Lincoln. The couple then moved to the Washington D.C. area where Jim worked as an attorney for the National Security Agency.
A few years later Jim took a legal counsel position with Minneapolis-Honeywell in St. Petersburg, Florida. In 1961, the pair returned to Nebraska where Jim, like his father and brother before him, opened his own law practice in David City. In the late 1970s, Jim relocated his office to the historic Boston Studio building.
Having a charitable nature, Jim was a co-founder and president of the David City Foundation, which provided financial support for area civic and cultural needs. He was also president of the David City School Board as well as the David City Rotary Club. He was a member of the David City Chamber of Commerce, The David City Library Board, The Nebraska Committee For The Humanities Foundation, The Educational Service Unit Board #7 and Lay Leader and Chairman of the Board for the St. Luke's United Methodist Church. Jim also served as president of the Fifth Judicial Bar Association, where he was a member of the board for the Nebraska Bar Association. Additionally, Jim was a member of the American Bar Association as well as a 32nd Degree Mason.
After retiring in 1991, Jim and his wife split their years between Ericson, (where Jim was co-founder of the Ericson Lake Association) and Green Valley, Arizona. Having wet their feet with bike rides across Nebraska, Jim and his wife, whom he referred to as his best friend, cycled through Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and New Zealand.
Jim’s ancestors immigrated to the United States from Gӓvle, Sweden, and founded the Swede Plain Church in Polk. Jim’s Grandfather was John Nathaniel Norton, who was a member of the Nebraska House of Representatives and co-introduced the Nebraska Unicameral System along with Senator George W. Norris. He later served as a United States Congressman. Jim’s aunt was Evelyn Lincoln Norton, who was John F. Kennedy’s personal secretary when he was a senator as well as when he was President of the United States.
Jim will be buried at the Osceola Cemetery in Osceola overlooking his boyhood home on the ridge. He will be remembered for his keen intelligence, dry wit and for the support and love he gave to his family.
He is survived by his wife Elaine of Green Valley, Arizona, his two sons Miles Nathaniel Norton of New York City, New York, and Todd Lincoln Norton of Carefree, Arizona, Todd’s wife Rebecca Gonzales Norton, their two children Nicolette Ann Norton and Travis Lincoln Norton all of Carefree, Arizona, and a daughter Kimberly Norton Blanchard of Hebron.