Honoring our beloved benefactor, Doris Norton

Doris Norton

With heavy hearts, the team at St. Joseph's Foundation shares the news that our dear friend and benefactor Doris Norton passed away at home, Dec. 16, 2021, surrounded by her three adult children, John, Michael and Melanie. 

Doris has been a philanthropic partner of St. Joseph's for many years, dedicating numerous donations to advancing nursing and medical education. Along with her husband, John, who passed away in 2016, she established the Doris Norton Scholars program in 2011 with a $4-million gift, designed to provide scholarships for third- and fourth-year students at Creighton University School of Medicine at St. Joseph's. The following year, she and John committed an additional $1.3 million for the renovation of a med student building that would become known as Norton Manor. 

Doris and John NortonIn 2014, the Nortons donated a $19-million transformational gift to St. Joseph's, establishing the John and Doris Norton Cardiothoracic Transplantation Institute, which is home to a nation-leading lung transplant center, kidney and liver transplant programs, and advanced esophageal and cardiac care.

In 2019, Doris dedicated $5 million to continue advancing health education at St. Joseph's and Creighton University. A portion of the gift, $3 million, was allocated to support development of the new Creighton campus in midtown Phoenix, while the remaining $2 million was designed to endow scholarships for students entering the nursing field. She has also made generous gifts to support St. Joseph's mommy-baby care and COVID-19 emergency preparedness efforts.

Doris actively participated in many fundraising efforts at St. Joseph's over the years, making friends wherever she went. Her amiable nature, genuine curiosity and beautiful smile will be dearly missed by all of her adoring friends throughout the St. Joseph's community. 


Doris Norton Obituary
(shared by Whitney & Murphy Funeral Home) 

Our beloved Doris Norton passed away December 16, 2021, at her home in Paradise Valley, Ariz., surrounded by her loving family. She was born September 9, 1927, in Sioux Falls, S.D., to Anna Lydia Hartig and Gustav Reinholt Schaefer. Following her high school graduation, the family moved to Phoenix, which she referred to as the beginning of her life.

Doris attended the University of Arizona, pledged Kappa Gamma, was crowned the U of A Citrus Queen and while on a date with one fellow met her future husband, John R. Norton. They married in 1950. After John’s service to our country in 1955, they settled in Blythe, Calif., to raise crops and a family, adding sons Michael and John, and daughter Melanie, prior to returning to Phoenix in 1972.

In 1985 after serving on President-Elect Ronald Reagan’s transition team, John was appointed Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture and they were off to Washington D.C. Doris supported John and worked in the White House assisting FLOTUS, Nancy Reagan.

Together, Doris and John were fortunate to travel the world visiting over 70 countries in every continent all while giving back to their community. Subsequent to the many gifts made by John and Doris together, Doris’s gifts to St. Joseph’s Foundation, Phoenix Children’s Hospital, Creighton University and the Arizona Humane Society were a very special part of her life after John’s passing in 2016. The many other gifts include: John and Doris Norton Healing Garden at St. Joseph’s Hospital, the John and Doris Norton School of Family and Consumer Sciences, the University of Arizona, endowment of the Norton Gallery at the Phoenix Art Museum, and in 2014 their transformational gift to St. Joseph’s Foundation establishing the John and Doris Norton Cardiothoracic and Transplantation Institute. Doris served as Co-chair for Campaign Cornerstones, U of A, and was a life member of the Women’s Board of Barrow Neurological Foundation.

With the founding of the Norton Foundation, supporting charitable, educational and scientific purposes, Doris and John have left a legacy benefiting the community they loved. She is survived by daughter Melanie Norton; sons, John Norton (wife, Lillian) Michael Norton (wife, Kathleen); granddaughters Allison Rolfes (husband, Timothy) and Melissa Norton; great grandson William John Rolfes and her devoted caregivers.

Doris will be laid to rest next to John in a private family committal at Paradise Memorial Gardens in Scottsdale.
Memorial contributions in her memory may be made to: St. Josephs Foundation (designation Norton Thoracic Institute), 124 W. Thomas Road, Suite 250, Phoenix, AZ 85013 or Phoenix Children’s Hospital Foundation, 2929 E. Camelback Rd., Suite 122, Phoenix, AZ 85016. Condolences may be expressed at www.whitneymurphyfuneralhome.com.