Gerald (Jerry) Norton

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Member of the Silver Stringers
Contributor to the Melrose Mirror

I was born in Boston, March 24, 1924 to Leo and Alice Norton and lived in several greater Boston cities (Peabody, Wakefield, Woburn) until dad's John Hancock Company transferred him to the Malden agency. We moved to Melrose in the fall of 1931, my parents having bought a home in the Highlands. I received all my public school education in Melrose at the Whittier, Franklin and Roosevelt Schools and graduated from Melrose High in June 1942.

Two weeks after graduation I was taking navy training at Newport, R.I.. I served during the war years in the Navy Armed Guard which was comprised of navy gunners mates and signalmen who were detailed to civilian merchant ships for protection and communication. This duty took me to deep sea ports all over the world.

I sailed briefly in the merchant Marine after my navy discharge and attained my mates license in the fall of 1946. After attending business school in 1947-48 I was employed in the office of the resident engineer during the construction of the Mystic River (Tobin) bridge. Upon its completion in 1949 I transferred to the offices of the Mystic River Bridge Authority where I was employed until being recalled to active navy duty in January 1951 and remained until my retirement as a Master Chief Quartermaster in 1977.

During those active duty years my assignments were many and varied. Among them were training navy recruits in both Great Lakes and San Diego and serving on destroyers, ocean going tugs and aircraft carriers.

Two of my more interesting billets were as senior instructor at the Chief Petty Officers' Academy in Pensacola, Florida and shore duty in Taiwan as a member of our Military Assistance Group to the then fledgling Taiwanese government.

I was fortunate during all this time to have had my family (wife and two daughters) either with me on shore duty, including overseas, or in my home ports.

Stateside duties were spent home ported or stationed ashore in Rhode Island, Florida, Illinois, Louisiana, and California.

To this day my daughters reflect back with pleasure on their lives as "navy brats" with all the cultural and learning opportunities it afforded them. They both now live in California with families of their own. Sadly, my wife during those navy years, died long ago.

My second wife, Estelle, died in 1993. We had a nice life traveling and enjoying a home near Palm Springs, CA.

I now live with my present wife, Kathleen, in a suburb of Seattle, Washington. We have several children and grandchildren between us and it makes for an interesting life as folks of our age can all attest.

I am presently looking forward to my 80th birthday bash being thrown by the family at a resort in Mendocino, California.

I keep busy these days mainly with Kathleen's family activities since they live nearby and they are colorful. My physical agenda is comprised of long walks along the Green River (unfortunately of Green River Killer fame) and will be commencing my tenth year of senior softball in March. We, like many of us old folks, are fortunate in that we do our share of traveling.

Kathleen is a very accomplished oil painting artist and until recently has conducted classes at a local community college.

I am now looking forward to a happy association with all my fellow Silver Stringers.


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