Catherine 'Carrie' Skinner

Born: b 1873, Trout Creek, Jordan Valley, Oregon

Married: Lou J. Norton, Napa, California

Children: Daniel S. Norton,

Ruth Norton,


Daniel S. Norton Memorial

Son of Carrie Skinner Norton

Delivered at the student memorial services for Professor Dan S. Norton at the University Chapel, University of Virginia, November 20, 1951.

Each man who spends his forces and his years behind a college desk, must, unless he is unworthy, live by Chaucer's moving words "and gladly would he learn, and gladly teach."
The words had more than usual appropriateness for Dan Norton, for he more than any man I have known, gave them fuller, richer meaning. He did his share of the kind of learning that most professors practice, which is called research; he interpreted in the learned language of the critics those forms of literature which were his special province, — both tasks he did as brilliantly as any man.

Yet the narrow moulds of academic learning and instruction could not contain him. In subjects as far from English literature as modem painting, student journalism, physics, even sports and jazz music, in these he saw the Infinite variety and infinite patterning of humanactivity, the designs of which could be studied and revealed to others, so that human understanding of the human world might be increased. Nor did he see the teacher’s role as an academic dress to be put on only when he stepped to the lecture platform, or as an academic language, formal and didactic, for use In public utterances or the monologues which all too often are the death of conversation.

Rather he saw the teacher as one who played the dancing, quickly shifting light of his intelligence over all the world in which we live, always seeking out the lights of other intelligences like his own. His lectures were the stuff of good conversation, his mere warm-hearted social talk with friends as brightly lighted as his teaching.

I too, who knew him as a friend., and. never sat before him in the class room, can say I have been his student. And. it is this which makes me glad. to be speaking here, in this memorial the motion for which so fittingly comes from his students. It is you who knew him best, and to you that he gave himself unstintingly in class and out, so that you could have what he had. learned and. what he could teach, to make the best use of that you are able.

Those of us here now have been a fortunate generation. The years since the War saw here at Virginia a group of young teachers engaged, in vigorous questioning of older ways of seeing the world, and art, art in the world., and the world in art. They were disquieting men, and many may have been disturbed at questioning that implied that anything could, be examined. But the world around us has been disquieting too, and. teachers who could make their peace with change and uncertainty, and. hold to integrity and intelligence when all the old philosophy was cast in doubt, were no bad guides in a world, where all our ways of living are in flux, where much is new and. threatening, yet much is still the same.

One of those guides we lost two years ago, another we are speaking of now. Dan Norton's loss will be irreparable only if we who remain should lose his vision of the world. If our teaching sinks back to the comfortable, the safe, the provincial, we will indeed have lost Dan Norton.

It is not chance that Dan Norton was an inspiring teacher in a world, where it seems the only certainties are change and. danger. We can now say what we could not say while he was so resolutely and triumphantly alive. No man held so firmly to his purpose in the face of personal change and danger, or welded courage and intelligence into so single a unity. We knew — we must all have known — the strength that went into the delivery of those last lectures. And all of us have a memory enriched by that knowledge. He spoke no valedictory in those last days; he was too proud, and the words did not need saying. It was as if he had spoken the words of Cervantes in a situation like his own, the words of a man as brave as he.

With my feet in the stirrups of death, I greet
you. The time is brief, hopes diminish, yet
withal I protract it beyond my desire, that I
may welcome you once again — much work remains

Archibald A.Hill