Elaine Ann Norton
January 18, 1933 – February 7, 2021
A woman who provided inspiration and encouragement to those who knew her, Elaine Ann Norton, 88, passed away peacefully in Carefree, Arizona, on Feb. 7, 2021.
Elaine was born in Osceola, Nebraska, on Jan. 18, 1933, to Roy and Camilla Janicek Grossnicklaus. She and her close-knit siblings, Harold, Maxine (Sterner) and DeLores (Marak), were raised on the family farm bound by family gatherings and horse and buggy rides to country school. After graduating from Osceola High School, Elaine received a teaching degree from the Nebraska State Teachers College in Kearney, Nebraska. After teaching kindergarten at Highland Park school in Columbus, Nebraska, Elaine married her high school sweetheart James “Jim” Neal Norton on Aug. 7, 1954, briefly settling in Lincoln, Nebraska, where she taught in the Lincoln Public School System. The couple then moved to Washington D.C., where Elaine worked as a secretary for the National Security Agency. Following a relocation to St. Petersburg, Florida, the pair returned to the Midwest in 1961, where Jim opened a law practice in David City, Nebraska.
Elaine was involved with countless volunteer organizations and committees, as well as city and state boards. Having a passion for literature and the arts, Elaine was president of the David City Public Library Board of Trustees, creator and president of the David City Library Foundation and the founder of Friends of the Library. She was also president of the Nebraska Library Association, as well as the Nebraska Library Commission where she had been appointed by then-Gov. Charles Thone to represent the Northern Network.
For her years of dedication and enthusiastic service to library-related projects, she received the annual Meritorious Award. Elaine also founded the Butler County Arts Council. While serving as president, she coordinated arts programs for local schools and the community. She was instrumental in bringing Chautauqua 85 to David City, which won an Event of the Year award from the Department of Economic Development Travel Industry and written congratulations from then-President Ronald Reagan. In 1987, she received the Sower Award from the Nebraska Committee for the Humanities.
Elaine was a lifelong member of P.E.O. serving as president and as an international delegate, a United Methodist board member and Sunday school teacher, vice president of the United Methodist Conference Board of Higher Education, the president of Owls Club, a substitute public school teacher, UNICEF chairman, founder of Gray Ladies, a cub scout den mother and a 4-H Club leader.
While not engaged in public service, Elaine and her husband were avid runners and participated in BRAN (Bicycle Ride Across Nebraska) events. Retiring in 1991, Elaine and her husband became snowbirds, splitting their years between Ericson, Nebraska, (where she was founder of the Ericson Garden Club) and Green Valley, Arizona. The biking enthusiasts cycled through the United States, Germany, Holland, Belgium, France, Austria, Switzerland, Spain, Portugal, Ireland, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and New Zealand.
Forever in our hearts, Elaine will be laid to rest at the Osceola Cemetery in Osceola, Nebraska, next to her beloved husband. She will be remembered as a devoted wife, a mother who loved unconditionally and a kind and empathetic friend and neighbor.
Elaine is survived by her two sons, Miles Nathaniel Norton of New York City, New York, and Todd Lincoln Norton of Carefree, Arizona; Todd's wife, Rebecca Gonzales Norton and their two children, Nicolette Ann Norton and Travis Lincoln Norton all of Carefree, Arizona; and a daughter, Kimberly Norton Blanchard of Hebron, Nebraska.
Donations in Elaine's memory can be sent to: Memorials, Blue Valley Lutheran Homes, P.O. Box 166, 2020 Park Avenue, Hebron, Nebraska 68370.