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In Memoriam: Kenneth Watson Norton

by | Jul 6, 2023

Kenneth Watson Norton

March 4, 1928 – June 29, 2023

Mr. Kenneth Watson Norton, of Landis, N.C., transitioned into eternal rest on Thursday, June 29, 2023. Kenneth was born on March 4, 1928 in Cleveland County to the late Alvin Freeman and Mildred Mauney Freeman (Bridges). He was raised by his great-aunt and great-uncle Annie Mauney Norton and Hood Norton in Davidson, N.C. Kenneth married Bettye Gibson in 1950. Born into this union were three children, followed by six grandchildren, and six great-grandchildren.

Kenneth attended Davidson Colored School during his early years in Davidson and graduated in 1945. Prior to graduating, Kenneth became a barber apprentice under Hood Norton and Rutledge Norton. In 1943, he graduated from Woods Morgan Barber College. Kenneth earned a business administration and accounting degree from Carver Junior College in Charlotte. He held his career as a barber in Davidson for more than 60 years.

Kenneth continued his education at the age of sixty years old, graduating from UNCC with a degree in Boy Scout of America College of Commissioner Science. He received a Bachelor of Commissioner Science in 1988, Master of Commissioner Science in 1989, and a Doctorate of Commissioner Science in 1992.

Kenneth’s love for scouting continued throughout his life. He is responsible for leading many young men to earning their honor as an Eagle Scout. Kenneth has been awarded the Whitney M. Young Jr. Service Award, The James E. West Fellowship Award, Silver Beaver, District Award of Merit, Vigil Honor of the Arrow, and the Scouting Church Award. For a number of years, he also served on the Central North Carolina Council.

Kenneth was also affiliated with other organizations: The American Legion, Masonic Lodge #511, and the Davidson Lions Club. As a member of the Lions Club, he received the Melvin Jones Fellow and the Jack Stickley Fellow Awards. He also belonged to the Landis Optimist Club where he was recognized as a Life Member and was awarded the North Carolina West District Hall of Fame Award. In 2015, Kenneth was honored by the Town of Davidson for outstanding service to the citizens of Davidson and was given the key to the Town.

Kenneth was a member of the Sandy Ridge A.M.E. Zion Church. He enjoyed attending Sunday School and treasured Tuesday Bible Study. He sang in the Men’s Choir and Senior Choir. He also served on the Usher Board, Trustee Board, and Life Members Council. His favorite quote was “Love your neighbor as yourself.”

Kenneth was preceded in death by his wife Bettye Gibson Norton, infant son Charles Bernard Norton, and grandson Douglas Norton. Left to cherish precious memories are his daughter Bettye K. Norton Russell; son Kenneth Watson Norton II; grandchildren Ryan Russell, Ellen Russell Franklin, Derrick Norton, Kenneth Norton, and Nicholas Norton; six great-grandchildren; and a host of nieces, nephews, other relatives, and countless friends.

A Celebration of the Life of Kenneth Norton was held Thursday, July 6 at Sandy Ridge A.M.E. Zion Church. He was laid to rest in the church cemetery.

The Norton family acknowledged with deep appreciation the many expressions of love shown to them during this time. They especially thanked the staff of The North Carolina State Veterans Home (Salisbury) and his roommate Mr. Johnson.

The beautiful program prepared for Mr. Norton’s service featured the photograph above on the front and one of an Army Bugler playing “Taps” on the back – honoring Mr. Norton’s military service as a military policeman during the Korean War.

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