Celebrating the life of Virginia Birkeland Norton
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Virginia Birkeland Norton
Virginia Birkeland Norton died on 31 January 2019 in Spokane Valley WA. She was 88 years old.
Virginia was born on 24 August 1930 in Devils Lake ND to immigrant parents. Her father came from Norway, and her mother from England, meeting in North Dakota. About the time Virginia began school, her family moved to Longview WA where she grew up. In 1948, she graduated from R. A. Long High School, after which she attended Longview Community College for two years. From there, she went on to attend Central Washington State College (now University) in Ellensburg, graduating in 1952 with a B.A. in education. She was the first in her family to graduate from college.
At Central, Virginia met Bernard Holden Norton at a Freshman night out, and they married on 23 December 1951. Bernie was also a school teacher, and had taken a teaching position in Chelan WA. Virginia joined him after her graduation, and taught third grade in Chelan from 1952 to 1955.
In 1955, Bernie and Virginia moved to Grandview WA where Bernie had grown up, so that Bernie could help with his parents’ farm; they bought a small farm down the road from his parents’ place. Virginia taught second grade in Prosser from 1955 to 1957, then took a hiatus from her teaching career to raise two children. She resumed teaching in 1968 when her son entered second grade, this time at Harriet Thompson Elementary School in Grandview. She taught a junior primary class for two years, and then first grade until she retired in 1993.
Virginia enjoyed reading, particularly mystery novels. Together with Bernie she enjoyed playing bridge. Although Bernie was much more keen on golf, Virginia was the first to hit a hole-in-one. After retirement they enjoyed traveling with their friends, Jerry and Bettie Ferguson, and with Bernie’s brother and sister-in-law, Dick and Em Norton. They visited Europe several times, cruised the Panama Canal, and to Alaska, and traveled throughout America.
After coming to Grandview, Virginia joined Grandview Junior Women, later serving as the organization’s last president. After retirement, she became a member of P.E.O (Chapter AU) and of the Home Arts Club. Bernie and Virginia were both members of Bethany Presbyterian Church and of the Washington Education Association. They belonged to several bridge clubs over their time in Grandview.
In 2007, Bernie and Virginia sold the farm and moved into Grandview. In 2014, they moved to Spokane to live near their son.
Virginia was preceded in death by her parents Edward J. Birkeland and Nellie (Crook) Birkeland, her brother, Bob (Mary) Birkeland, and her sister Elsie (Dick) Chalupa. She is survived by her husband, Bernard Holden Norton, her daughter, Melissa Ann Norton, and her son Burke Holden (Brenda) Norton. She is also survived by her granddaughters Kayla (Matt) Norgren and Teagan Norton.
The family requests that memorial contributions be made to Bethany Community Church (201 Birch Street Grandview, WA 98930), or to Hospice of Spokane (121 S Arthur, Spokane WA 99202).
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