William Norton

Obituary of William Keeler Norton

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In Loving Memory of William (Bill) Keeler Norton (December 15, 1945 - December 29, 2018)
Bill was born in Evanston, Illinois on December 15, 1945 to Harold K. Norton, Sr. and Kathryn A. Keeler. His older brother Hal Jr. was his only sibling.

Bill grew up in Manhasset, Long Island, New York. He was active in his church and scouting. He loved music, from playing the piano and singing in the choir, to attending performances of classical music, including the Metropolitan Opera, Gilbert and Sullivan productions and the New York Philharmonic. Bill, his dad and brother avidly collected stamps and coins. These interests continued well into Bill's adult life, and he shared them with his daughters and grandchildren.

Academics came easily to Bill, and he often became a teacher’s pet. He graduated from Bowdoin College in 1967 with a Bachelor of Science degree, majoring in mathematics and with a double minor in philosophy and religion. In 1970 Bill graduated from Andover Newton Theological School in Boston, with a Master’s degree in theology and was ordained in the Christian ministry.

That same year, he married his first wife Maxine L. Manning, and they joined the Ecumenical Institute,which later became the Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA), an international community-development NGO. As staff with the ICA, they took assignments in the United States, and later, after their two daughters Felicia and Therese were born, took assignments overseas to Australia, Wales, Kenya and theIvory Coast. These family assignments led to many adventures and cultural influences. Bill’s skills were incommunity-building, research and development of new curriculum, and writing funding proposals forthe ICA.

In 1986 the family moved to Seattle. In Seattle, Bill worked as a computer consultant until he retired in 2011. After retirement he married (and divorced) again, continued his international adventures (living for a short time in Brazil and India), and worked on publishing a book of his writings.

A man of faith, Bill lived his values. For many years in Seattle, he was active in the Shoreline Unitarian Universalist Church. He believed deeply in social justice and human rights. Important influences in Bill’s life were the civil rights movement and the protests against the Vietnam War. He participated in rallies and heard a speech by Martin Luther King, Jr. which deeply moved him. He was a compassionate, generous man who never missed an opportunity to make a pun and whose big laugh (or sneeze) could be heard from every corner of a room.

On December 29, 2018, Bill passed away peacefully in Bellingham, Washington, where he briefly lived. As best he could, he courageously lived with bipolar illness for 30+ years and died of acute kidney failure caused by complications from his years of treatment. He was very aware of his illness because he researched it thoroughly; and he hoped, through his understanding of it, to let people know so they might also learn about it.

He is preceded in death by his both parents and his brother Harold K. Norton, Jr. He is survived by his oldest daughter Felicia Soth, her husband Bunyiam and his two grandchildren Leone and Alexis of Mountlake Terrace, WA, his youngest daughter Therese Norton of Bellingham, WA and her partner Craig Haugen, his ex-wife Maxine S. Manning of Shoreline, WA, and many cousins.

Memorial Services will be held later in 2019 according to his wishes. Memorial donations may be made to National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI), Whatcom County Chapter by mail to P.O. Box 5571, Bellingham, WA 98227 or online at www.namiwhatcom.org

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