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Will Norton memorial to be held on campus Thursday

August 22, 2011

Will Norton (Photo/Family of Will Norton)

Chapman University will remember Will Norton, the incoming freshman film major from Joplin, Mo., who died in the May 22 tornado that struck that city, with a memorial event in his honor this Thursday, Aug. 25 at 4 p.m. in the university’s Fish Interfaith Center.

Chapman President James L. Doti also announced that Norton’s name has been inscribed on the Wall of Student Honor in the Chapman University Columbarium (   The service takes place during the university’s Orientation Week for the new freshman class, of which Norton would have been part.

Members of Norton’s family plan to attend the memorial, including his parents and sister.  The service is open to the public and the campus community.

Norton, an18-year-old budding filmmaker, had been accepted into Dodge College of Film and Media Arts as a film production major, and would have started classes this fall.  During the EF5 tornado that devastated Joplin on May 22, Norton, who was driving back home from his high school graduation with his father, was pulled out of the sunroof of their vehicle by the force of the storm.  After a days-long search, his body was finally discovered in a pond near where the vehicle had flipped.

“The finality of Will’s loss was truly tragic,” said President Doti.  “The fact that he will not be joining our university this August means that our learning community has lost a vibrant and original spirit.  Many of our students, faculty and staff followed news of the search via social media, and were devastated when the news came.  This memorial is a way for our campus community to join with his family in both grieving the loss and celebrating the life of this extraordinary young man.”

One Comment leave one →
  1. Charla Reid, Plano, Texas permalink
    August 25, 2011 8:20 pm

    Your ceremony on behalf of Will Norton speaks volumes about your commitment to the students and their future. Nate Kewish, also a freshman at Chapman this fall, was to be his roommate and having only talked with Will for a few weeks, knows his life has been forever changed. I know Will’s family deeply appreciates this honor at Chapman. Will had a beautiful life at home for 18 years and his future was incredibly bright. He will be missed.

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