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Bill Norton

December 15, 1945   —  December 29, 2018

Bellingham, Washington

I was with Bill during the early 80s in Kenya working on the New Village Movement. At that time we had 350 Kenyan ‘blue shirt’ staff and impacted 1,500 villages across all of Kenya. We had staff all over Kenya and great support from a variety of amazing donors. One of our best supporters was Goran Hyden of the Ford Foundation who was also on the Board of Sweden SIDA (Swedish International Development  Cooperation Agency).


Hyden thought the best hope for a major grant was to do an in depth study of the ICA’s impact, so Ford gave us $50,000 to do such a study. We hired a University of Nairobi professor to do the study. There were control villages matched with our New Village Movement Villages. We did a baseline study using the Professor’s graduate students for the field studies and entering the data in the University’s computers.  After a year we were ready to go back and collect the new data to measure the change in behavior, knowledge and attitudes. But the University professor said he had spent the money and needed more money.


Obviously, we were in trouble. Bill Norton stepped up and said I can do it. I have the computer background and willing to go out to these villages. I can coordinate with our staff the collection of new data and then put in the data and run the significant difference test off the University’s computer. In three months Bill had the work done with amazing results.  Thanks, Bill.

~~  Dick Alton


Leah Early shares her thoughts thru a poem she wrote and an Aboriginal poem she shared:


In acknowledging the death of Bill Norton, these thoughts visit me:


Bill is not someone I was assigned with in a place of raw possibilities.I was never close enough to feel vibrations from his singing, nor did I wash dishes with him amid steaming water and clanging dish trays. We shared no late night security sessions, no sweaty cleanup days. But I knew wherever Bill was, he broke bread and spilled wine.


Across a very crowded room, I caught a wide smile and dancing eyes. And from great distances through Religious House reports, we were introduced again and again. I knew the Nortons were part of our community—the us living precariously between no-longer and not-yet–and as was true for all living things, Bill’s life was precious.



From Bee Lake, an Aboriginal poet:


Forever Oneness,
who sings to us in silence,
who teaches us through each other.
Guide my steps with strength and wisdom.
May I see the lessons as I walk,
honor the Purpose of all things.
Help me touch with respect,
always speak from behind my eyes.
Let me observe, not judge.
May I cause no harm,
and leave music and beauty after my visit.
When I return to forever
may the circle be closed
and the spiral be broader.

          ~~  Leah Early

We were with Bill in Kenya while Dick and Linda, Jim and Judy, were there too. I remember the report from one of the foundations which reported the tremendous positive impact that the New Village Movement had in Kenya, which he dutifully followed through, I think by escorting the evaluator. Dick, which grant and report was that! He was ecstatic because, the recorder saw the victory of the projects, and not the holes in implementation.

           ~~  Evelyn and Larry Philbrook


The only other Norton I knew was the Norton Anthology of English Literature (or something like that) and I associated it will Bill because he was so intelligent. I also thought of him as a big, wise, gentle bear because he was. Yes, Journey on. And for Catherine, I did not know you, but your legacy is a deep and appreciated gift.

          ~~  Sunny Walker


When we moved into the Atlanta House in 1973, Bill Norton was someone with eyes wide open, a ready laugh, and a singing voice that carried us through the days. Journey on, Bill, journey on

          ~~  Diann McCabe