Former Port St. Joe City Commissioner and prominent community figure Charles “Charlie” Norton, 88, passed away on April 17 with his family by his side.
Norton is remembered as a dedicated member of the community, attending every fundraiser he could and frequently hosting events that brought people together.
“For so many years, he was involved in so many fundraisers and different organizations in this community,” said Ralph Roberson, a former colleague and friend of Norton’s.
“Charlie Norton was maybe best known to a lot of people for his talent for cooking steaks. Whether it was the Lions Club, or the Ducks Unlimited or the Sharks 100 Club, if there were steaks to be cooked, Charlie did it. He was always willing to donate his time and talents to do positive things for the community.”
Port St. Joe Rex Buzzett said Norton would often host get-togethers for his friends and neighbors.
“We’d get together either at Charlie’s house or at one of the local watering holes and just visit and talk about things,” he said. “I really enjoyed that with him.”
Norton served as a commissioner during the 1990s, when Buzzett said he helped to make several decisions that were instrumental in shaping the town’s development – including the construction of the Port St. Joe Marina.
Additionally, Norton served in leadership roles in the Port St. Joe Lions Club, the Port St. Joe Jaycees, the Gulf County Health Department Board of Directors, the Port St. Joe High School Quarterback Club, Port St. Joe Dixie Youth Baseball and the Port St. Joe Port Authority.
He was employed by St. Joe Paper Company for forty-four years, excluding his time spent in Germany after being drafted into the U.S. Army. He served as the company’s corporate manager for industrial relations before he retired in 1997.
Roberson said that during his time at the paper mill, Norton was a well-respected colleague with a special talent for handling complex conflicts and negotiations.
“I think the greatest thing about Charlie was that his word was golden,” Roberson said. “Once he gave you his word about something, you could take it to the bank.”
“That was very important in negotiations – to have someone that both sides could trust.”
Though he traveled often for his career, Norton was a lifelong resident of Gulf County. He grew up in Wewahitchka and lettered in baseball, basketball and track at Wewahitchka High School.
“He made so many friends in so many places
In March, Gulf County dedicated the lower landing park in Howard Creek to Norton.
Charlie was a member of Port St Joe First United Methodist Church, where services will be held Sunday, April 24 at 2 p.m. EST, with Dr. Geoffrey Lentz presiding. Visitation will be held one hour prior to the service. Charlie will be buried next to his wife – Caroline, and his parents at Jehu Cemetery, Wewahitchka, Florida.