Clark Frederic Norton

Monday, August 3, 2009

Clark Frederic Norton, 97, of Bowie, Md. died of congestive heart failure at home on Wednesday, July 22, 2009, with Mary, his wife of nearly 69 years, nearby.

He was born on April 18, 1912, in Ludington, Mich. After graduating from Ludington High School in 1930, he attended Lawrence College (now Lawrence University) in Appleton, Wisc. for one year. Forced to drop out of college because of the Depression, he enrolled at the University of Michigan in 1932 and graduated in 1935, a member of Phi Kappa Phi honorary society. He continued his studies, receiving an M.A. in 1936 and a Ph.D. in 1940, both in history. In August 1940, he married Mary Elizabeth Lunny, whom he had met in college. Their honeymoon was the drive to his first appointment, at the University of Montana in Missoula, where he taught for two years in a combined History-Political Science Department, and where one of his colleagues was Mike Mansfield, later Senate Majority Leader and Ambassador to Japan. In 1942, he returned to the University of Michigan as an instructor, then assistant professor, of Political Science.

In 1948 he accepted a position as associate professor of Political Science at DePauw University in Greencastle, and from then until 1964 he taught at the university, being promoted to professor in 1952 and serving as director of graduate studies (1959-1964) and assistant academic dean (1961-64). Among his students at DePauw was Vernon Jordan, former president of the Urban League. While in Greencastle, he was elected to several terms on the city council, serving from 1956 to 1964.

In the late 1950s, he became acquainted with Birch Bayh, then an Indiana state legislator, and he volunteered for him in his victorious Senate campaign in 1962. He joined Senator Bayh's office as his Legislative Assistant in January 1964, serving until 1971, when he joined the staff of the Senate Public Works Committee. In 1975 he moved to the Congressional Research Service, from which he retired in 1984.

After retirement, he and his wife enjoyed multiple trips to Europe, Australia, New Zealand, Egypt and China. They also returned to Greencastle several times to visit the many friends they had made during their residence in town.

A memorial service will be held at St. Matthew's Church, Bowie Maryland, on Saturday, August 22, at 10 A.M. His ashes will be buried in Ludington at the convenience of the family.

He is survived by his wife, Mary Lunny Norton, of Bowie; his daughter Mary Beth of Ithaca, N.Y.; his son Clark and daughter-in-law Catharine of Narrowsburg, N.Y.; his grandson Grael Norton of Tucson, Ariz.; and his granddaughter Lia Norton, of Brooklyn, N.Y.