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  • YAF Mourns Jerry Norton, Long-time Leader and Beloved Colleague

    12/17/2013 11:23:42 AM Posted by Cheri Cerame

    A champion for conservatism... 



    The service date for Jerry Norton will take place at Arlington National Cemetery on Friday, April 11 at 10:00 am. Please arrive at least 30 minutes prior to the start time at the Administration Building and NO LATER than 9:30 am with your vehicles. If you are planning to attend the funeral service, you are required to have a vehicle to get to and from the burial site.  There will be a reception with refreshments at the Holeman Lounge in the National Press Club from 12:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.  following the service.  You will have the chance to speak at the reception if you wish to do so. Funeral information can be found here: Arlington National Cemetery           

    Contact information:       
    Kim & Michael Norton   
    203 1st Street Rockville MD 20851   
    cell #: 850-321-0414  
    home #: 301-762-0476   

    Early Sunday morning on December 15, Jerry Norton lost his battle with brain cancer. He fought for 14 long months but was unable to overcome the pneumonia that developed during these past few weeks.  

    Jerry most recently served as the executive director of Young America's Foundation's National Journalism Center from 2012 to 2013 before he became ill. We will miss his sharp mind, great sense of humor, half crooked smile and mild-mannered presence.  

    Jerry served on the board of Young Americans for Freedom in college after working on the YAF staff as college chapter and publications director, and also served as editor of YAF's New Guard magazine from 1971 to 1973.    

    He had been a Reuters bureau chief in Indonesia and Singapore, Reuters news editor in Japan, and one of its editors in Hong Kong, Singapore and Washington. He traveled on assignments for Reuters to China, East Timor, Malaysia, Australia, the Philippines and other countries.

    As Asian deputy editor in charge for political and general news from 2007 through 2010, with a brief for South Asia coverage, he oversaw coverage in India and the rest of the Subcontinent, reinforcing in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, and several times in Pakistan.

    Prior to his career of more than 25 years with Reuters, Norton was the business editor of Hong Kong's leading English-language newspaper; worked in Asia, Europe and the U.S. for another news agency; was vice president and managing editor of Phillips Publishing in the Washington area.

    An Oregon native, Norton graduated Phi Beta Kappa from the University of Oregon Honors College.  After service in the U.S. Army in Vietnam, where he won a Purple Heart and other decorations, he attended Columbia University, earning a master's degree from its Graduate School of Journalism. 

    He was a long-time member of the Philadelphia Society and was twice elected president of the Singapore Foreign Correspondents Association.

    Jerry is survived by his wife, Kim Thoa, and son, Michael Norton.  


    In Remembrance of Jerry Norton, New Guard Editor

    Flip through the YAF '72 Annual Report issue below to find Jerry's articles, "An Interview with Senator James Buckley," and "Communicating Conservatism."



    Do you have a story to tell about Jerry?  Fellow Yafers are encouraged to leave their thoughts and prayers for the Norton family in the comment section below.  

    • Readers' Comments

    • Jerry was in the class of 1964 at Marshfield High in Coos Bay, Oregon. I was in the class of 1965 at North Bend High a few miles away. We met in the heady days of the draft Goldwater campaign in 1963. Jerry formed the first chapter of Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) in the Coos Bay Area.I followed him as President when he went for collage at the University of Oregon. At Oregon he formed another chapter of YAF and I followed him there and succeeded him as president again. After graduation from the U of O he entered the Army and I followed him a year later after my graduation. Jerry was my mentor and I will miss him and his quiet wisdom. Being a conservative on a collage campus was very lonely during the turbulent 60's but having Jerry on our side made all the difference. The fight goes on for individual liberty. Jim Wickre, a no longe young former YAFer
      Posted by Jim Wickre on 12/19/2013
    • I had the difficult task of replacing Jerry as college director of Young Americans for Freedom in 1968 when Jerry left to begin his military service. When he returned two years later I was once again on the YAF national staff and we worked together until the end of 1973. Our paths diverged but we were able to visit when Jerry was at Columbia, in Singapore, and more recently back in the DC area. Jerry was insightful, kind, and generous with a level-headed personality not always found in the political arena. It seemed he was ALWAYS reading, no matter the situation or occasion, always learning and always challenging his commitment to individual freedom. He has left behind a legacy of commitment and contribution and we are lessened by his absence,
      Posted by Wayne Thorburn on 12/23/2013
    • Jerry used to come to our house before he went overseas to work for Reuters to play cards, canasta I think. We would start early and go late into the night. He was a good player but what I remember most was that he would multitask through the long games. He would clip articles from the papers he was reading, review resumes of people who had applied to work, and do all sorts of other work task while playing cards. Before I came to Washington to work while I was a senior at Briarcliff College I started to date Ron and he took me to a good movie Young Winston, about the early years of Winston Churchill's career. Ron encouraged me to write a movie review and then Jerry published it in New Guard - it was the first time I had an article published in a national publication and Jerry was always very pleased he was the one to do it. Kim and Michael you were such wonderful caregivers for Jerry through this tough 14 months. Thank you for what you did. Jerry always could make me laugh with his smile and sense of humor. Let's all remember that special person, unique on this earth, who we will miss and admire forever.
      Posted by Michelle Easton on 12/23/2013
    • While speaking throughout the country for YAF, in the middle 1960's, I was met at an Oregon airport by Jerry Norton. For several days, this bright, fun loving local YAF leader and I drove to every chapter in the state. We were together 24/7 - and it was a wonderful, memorable experience. Although I saw him from time-to-time during the next 40+ years, I will always remember Jerry as that great - always smiling - young man barn storming through Oregon. My deepest sympathy to his loved ones. Charles Wiley
      Posted by Charles Wiley on 12/23/2013
    • Jerry was a really committed conservative at an early age. I was the Western Regional Chair and National YAF board member from the west from 1963 to 1966. Jerry was our chapter chairman and leader in Oregon. This is pre Reagan during the Barry Goldwater Campaign . At that time Ronald Reagan was working with us. Jerry was involved at a key time and helped propell the conservative movement on college campuses. Jerry was one of the cadre of young conservatives inspired by Goldwater and Bill Buckley. Young conservatives today would do well to emulate Jerry.
      Posted by Jack Cox on 12/23/2013
    • I first met Jerry when I came onto the YAF National Board of Directors in 1975 after the Chicago convention. I believe I only overlapped with Jerry for a year or two at most before he moved on to "Older Americans for Freedom" endeavors. He was an inspiration for me in beginning my military career--I joined the Army National Guard several years after meeting Jerry and just passed the mark for my 29th year of service. I lost track of him for over 30 years, but I was overjoyed a couple of years ago to see him and share life notes at a Cato lunch that Dave Boaz had invited both of us to attend. You often remember the funny things. I remember that at a Board meeting in Orlando, I was sitting next to Jerry when I carefully scooped up a beetle crawling on the table and deposited it outside the door. Jerry was looking at me strangely when I returned. "I guess I am turning into something of a Buddhist." Jerry said, "Yeah, I noticed." Rest in peace, fellow warrior!
      Posted by Terry Quist on 12/24/2013
    • I managed Jerry's campaign for the Va. House of Delegates. He was a good-humored, hard working and principled conservative candidate. Jerry worked hard at door-to-door and won a multiple candidate Republican Primary despite our having meager campaign funds. Jerry was a great candidate and always shined in the candidate debates. In those days there were still "liberal Republicans" of the Linwood Holton variety. Jerry beat them only to lose the general election in an overwhelmingly Democratic district. Jerry never regretted a minute of our effort. He was truly a great conservative and a great American.
      Posted by Roger Stone on 12/24/2013
    • Jerry was truly one-of-a kind in politics. A razor sharp mind and profound eloquence coupled with that genuine, warm personality that overhwlemed any desire to disagree with him. He was unfailingly kind and helpful on the professional level, and a genuine friend too all of us YAF actsivists "back then". A fine, fine gentleman that the movement and the country will miss.
      Posted by Bill Saracino on 12/26/2013
    • The passing of Jerry Norton ushers in a sad time but wonderful memories of him. I recall Jerry as a YAF activist in an Oregon already moving leftward in the 1960s ~ in hindsight, maybe the war in Vietnam and the student demonstrations against it and the support for them was pulling and pushing the nation in that direction. The war and those demonstrations were certainly not isolated in the nation’s intellectual movement. Jerry went to that war, a product of which for him was its introduction to southeast Asia, a region where he would spend much, and it turned out most, of his professional career of many achievements. In order to meet with Jerry and his YAFers in Oregon was the reason for my first trip to the Northwest. Coming as I did out from the South, I was as shocked at the prevelance of rain, at the dominance of green, at the extent of moss (and I don’t mean Spanish!) covering about everything, and at it seemed everything dwelling or other building built out of wood (and not brick) as I was in Jerry ordering a pizza the first night. I heard Jerry order a ham-and-pineapple pizza, of which I can assure you I had never heard. It sounded downright disgusting, but I remember the wooden shack it seems from which we picked it up, and it was not disgusting to eat. (On my way back from Vietnam later, it was my first food order in Honolulu, accompanied by YAF fellow staffer Ron Dear who thought it was as disgusting as I once had, the Ron Dear who helped carry Texas for Reagan’s GOP Presidential nomination, the Ron Dear who died last summer in Houston.) I will remember Jerry as a thoughtful and effective “New Guard” editor during a time when he was trying to keep young traditionalists and libertarians together without compromising his own libertarian views while others were trying to push them apart. Jerry worked hard at his “New Guard” tasks, as he did all others. (To the best of my knowledge, he is the only “New Guard” editor to have a graduate degree from Columbia University’s prestigious J school which is not to put them down but to recognize him.) Maybe both groupings ended up stronger from being unrestrained by the other in their respective growths, maybe they proved that competition really does strengthen both contenders. I suspect that, as some traditionalists became increasingly libertarian, fewer libertarians became increasingly traditionalists. Maybe that reflects the nation too. In the 2000 movie, Gladiator, Russell Crowe’s Maximus observed, “Death smiles at us all. All we can do is smile back.” Jerry Norton had the greatest of smiles. I will miss him and his smile greatly.
      Posted by Randy Teague on 12/30/2013
    • "How the Ability to Type Saved the Lives of Two Skytroopers!" I first met Jerry Norton in the second week of February, 1970, in the tropical paradise of Phuoc Vinh, South Vietnam. How we got there is a story for the ages and the fact that we both survived Vietnam came down to a unique weapon--the typewriter, proving once again that words are mightier than the sword. Both of us were drafted, he from Oregon and me from Ohio. Jerry did basic training at Ft. Lewis, Washington and artillery school at Ft. Sill, Oklahoma. I did basic at Ft. Dix, New Jersey and infantry/81mm mortar school at Ft. Lewis. We both were assigned to the lst Air Cavalary Division. Jerry to Vietnam several months before me and was assigned to a lst Cav artillery battery in Song Be. (The Cav operated in III Corps with brigade headquarters in Son Be, Quan Loi and Tayninh. The division commander operated out of Phuoc Vinh), Jerry was part of a l05mm howitzer crew and fired that gun daily as the enemy constantly blasted Song Be and sent the bad guys through the wire on a regular basis. Jerry's first lucky day came when he learned the battery commander had no clerk who could type. Jerry quickly volunteered, being a renowned typist, and he came off the line. However, he was not completely safe, which became apparent one night when the VC attacked Song Be yet again. Jerry grabbed his M-16 and headed for the Green Line, but incoming rockets splashed schrapnel every where and Jerry was hit, but not very badly. He won the purple heart and I believe he carried at least one piece of schrapnel forever. Jerry's second lucky day came shortly thereafter when he read a recruitment ad in the Cav's weekly newspaper, advertising for people with journalism degrees and real-world experience for assignment to the Cav's Public Information office in Phuoc Vinh (In its infinite wisdom, the Army never trained enough people to be clerk/typists or PIO types, which is why they had to be recruited in Vietnam). Jerry sent a resume to the PIO commanding officer, Major J. D. Coleman, was interviewed by Coleman and bingo, Jerry was out of the artillery and sitting pretty in the PIO office in Phuoc Vinh. Having dodged rockets and survived, there is no doubt his assignment to Cav PIO saved his life. Likewise, being able to type saved my life. I was two days away from being sent to the "boonies" with an infantry company to kill the bad guys. A personnel corporal appeared out-of-nowhere and announced that if anyone could type 30 words a minute and had a college degree, come see him immediately. I did. The corporal reviewed my personnel file, saw that I had a BA in journalism from Ohio State; a MA in journalism from Wisconsin plus real-world experience working for the Wisconsin State Journal and a secondary Army job title of 71Q (Information Specialist) and called the very same Major J. D. Coleman in Phuoc Vinh. I didn't even have to interview. The next day I was in Phuoc Vinh, out of the infantry and the mortar platoon--all because I could type. It saved my life! Jerry and Terry, both saved because they could type .Because of that bond, we remained friends for 44 years. Life in the 1st Cav PIO was interesting and boring.  We had reporters, photographers, artists and broadcast people preparing stuff for the weekly newspaper and four-color magazine. We had PIO offices in Phuoc Vinh, Song Be, Quan Loi, TayNinh and Bien Hoa. All of us competed to get stories, pictures and art work in the weekly newspaper or our four-color magazine. The broadcasters did taped interviews with "Skytroopers" and sent them to hometown radio stations, which was a big hit. There were four "plum" jobs in Cav PIO:  1) 90-120-day temporary assignment to the Armed Forces Radio and Television Network in Saigon; 2) 90-120-day temporary assignment to the military newspaper "Stars & Stripes" (to the bureau office in Saigon; 3) editor of the weekly newspaper which put you in Saigon every Thursday and Friday to put the newspaper together for printing and, the most coveted job of all--editor of the division magazine, which included a 30-day temporary assignment, usually to Tokyo, to assemble and print the magazine.  There was never any doubt in my mind that Jerry would get the magazine job and he did. And absolutely nobody complained. Jerry let me write one of the stories for his issue. I got the job as editor of the newspaper and later, when I extended my tour in Vietnam to qualify for an immediate discharge, I got the magazine job.  The money had finally run out, so I was down-graded to 30 days in Taipei, Taiwan. While in Phuoc Vinh, Jerry and I learned just how boring it was being stationed at a base in the middle of nowhere. The base was several hundred acres, complete with its own airfield for countless helicopters and three-different Air Force prop planes (no jets). Only helicopters were allowed to spend the night. We only had "outhouses" and bathing took place standing below a 55-gallon drum of water with one spicket. Entertainment consisted of drinking (beer, liquor and cigarettes could only be bought with a GI ration card); your own 8-track tape machine and you own radio; one television in the 1st Cav Press Camp (complete with a bar (beer only sales) and the infamous "After Chow" jungle volleyball games (no rules-kill or be killed). We had a large press contingent pass through our press camp, including reporters from ABC, NBC, CBS, New York Times, Washington Post and just about every big-city newspaper.  More times than not, we sat in our editorial shop, talking politics, going home and what we missed the most.  Jerry always headed up the political talks and his conservative outlook was not always appreciated but everyone soon learned that if you want to argue politics with Jerry, you had better have your facts well in hand. In fact, if you wanted to talk about anything with Jerry, you had to be up-to-date and relevant in your thoughts. One night Dave from Michigan tried to argue with Jerry (Oregon) about which state was the better to live in and which was better to visit as a tourist--kind of a Chamber-of-Commerce shoot-out!  Dave never understood that his gun wasn't loaded and he didn't have a chance against Jerry. Those of us who witnessed this epic battle of words were convinced, when the smoke cleared, that when we returned to the "World" we should move to Oregon.  Lesson learned:  don't mess with Oregon or Jerry! When I left the Army, a friend helped me get a journalism job in DC (bad recession in 1971) and Jerry and I were roommates He in two different apartments in Alexandria. He was working for YAF at the time in various editorial positions. Politics was his love and he ran for the House of Representatives in the Virginia legislature. I had moved on to work in the national trade association world with the lobby for the distillers. My generous boss passed along some of the "good stuff" and I sold cocktails at fundraisers for Jerry's election. He won the Republican primary but lost the general election. If he had won, I am convinced Jerry would have remained in politics forever. His focus changed and off he went to the Columbia School of Journalism and his second wife. Believe it or not, after escaping Vietnam, Jerry went back to gather material for his thesis. His wife was a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines and he flew at virtually no cost. Jerry arrived back in Vietnam after U.S. forces pulled out and before the North Vietnamese took control of the entire country. Jerry rode buses all over South Vietnam, most notable Route l, the only north-south paved road in the country. How he could go back there is beyond me, but Jerry had a nose for the story, the travel and adventure. I believe the Foreign Correspondent bug invaded him during this second posting to Vietnam. Jerry got his MA from Columbia and returned to DC where he took a job with Phillips Publishing Company as vice president and chief editor. But he wanted to be a daily reporter and he wanted to write about business and economics. A fellow Buckeye, Linda Vance, bureau chief for Commodity News Service, gave Jerry his first daily reporting job and the career began. He moved to London with CNS and then on to the Far East, highlighted by a 25-year career with Reuters. It was hard to stay in touch with Jerry (no email), but we crossed paths in the 80s when I passed through Hong Kong and Jerry was the Business Editor the South China Morning Post, the most prominent English-language daily in Hong Kong. The first night, Jerry gave me a tour after work (the job and the story always came first). My second and last night, we were to going to have dinner at one of Jerry's favorite joints. But a story came up and he didn't get to my hotel until 9:00 p.m. So we sat in my room looking out over Hong Kong Harbor, eating $15 burgers and fries with countless bottles of Heineken. We told more stories and lies then most mortal men could imagine; talked about all our buddies from the lst Cav and laughed until we cried. At one point, I just stopped, looked at Jerry and said, "Norton, we are a one hellua long way from Phuoc Vinh." Ever the suscint reporter, Jerry simply said, "No Shit!" And then we laughed until we could no longer breathe. The Bond of theTyping Fools of Phuoc Vinh had been reconnected, re-established and reconfirmed despite years of not seeing each other. I didn't see Jerry again until 2011 when he took a Reuters job in DC but Email kept us up to date. I was visiting my son and daughter and Jerry and I had lunch together in Shirlington with another old buddy, Dave Collogan, who had just retired as the 40-year editor of the publication, "Business Aviation." The stories, the lies and the BS were endless, but priceless. I talked to Jerry regularly after, exchanging emails, too. But little did I know that it would be the last time I would see him. There is no doubt in my formerly military mind that Jerry is sitting up there at the right hand of the Editor-in-Chief, writing his speeches, proclamations, press releases, blogs and all social-media material. Maybe Jerry can get me a job on his staff when my time comes? Not likely, as Jerry rode the "Up" escalator and I think the "Down" escalator has my name inscribed in fire and brimstone. But I learned long ago to never underestimate Jerry. He could work with anyone and  accomplish anything! Jerry was a tremendously talented journalist and reporter, but more importantly, he was a great guy. Nobody doesn't like Sara Lee and nobody didn't like Jerry Norton. His sense of humor, his wry smile that covered his face when he cracked off yet another pun and his ability to get along with everyone are rare qualities in this divided country. Jerry and I are tied together at the hip because we were brought together reluctantly by our Uncle Sam and the simple fact we could both type. The typewriter, I firmly believe, saved out lives Out of those old Royal and Remington typewriters came a story of brotherhood that lasted 44 years but should have lasted much longer. If ever one man deserves to rest in eternal peace in the hallowed ground of Arlington National Cemetery, it is Jerry William Norton. Rest in peace Skkytrooper. Gary Owen, mo fo!
      Posted by J. Terry Turner on 01/24/2014
    • Jerry was a member of the CNS Washington, DC bureau when I, a recent j-school grad, joined the small staff in the summer of 1975. We were so few in numbers we all had to learn each others beat to give relief during absences. I guess it was my minor in economics that made me the main one to sub at times for Jerry. Oh, my -- I was no match for the lead guy on that beat. After I moved with CNS to overseas, we continued our friendship via a penpal relationship off and on for some thirty years. Kim, Michael and Jerry visited and stayed with my family in Switzerland sometime around 1984 or 1985 when our children were just toddlers. At one point, Jerry sent me his manuscript for a book on the time he spent in Nam. I never could understand why it did not become a classic with chapters titled based on grafitti of that time and place -- but alas, Good Morning, Viet Nam came out about that time. Jerry was a good friend, a journalism mentor, dedicated to his family, his roots and his politics. He was as right as I was left, but in friendship and the ethics of journalism we shared a common ground. I am very saddened on hearing of his passing. Belated sympathies to Kim and Michael and I hope to make it to the ceremony in April.
      Posted by Janet Roewe Piller on 03/06/2014
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