Catherine (Norris) Norton, 73, of Falmouth, MA died peacefully at home on December 22, 2014 after a battle with cancer. She and her former husband Thomas J. Norton moved to Falmouth for the "summer" but never left. She is survived by her 4 children whom she idolized and were with her when she passed, Dr. Margaret Molly Norton, Michael Norton, Kerrie Norton Marzot, and Thomas "Packy" Norton; her grandchildren: Buddy Norton Estes, Toby Marzot, Drew Norton, Kate Norton, Hailey Norton, Roberto Marzot, Julietta Marzot; and her sister, Joan Gardner.
She lived for her family, friends, fun, faith and flowers. She remained longtime friends with classmates from grammar school all the way through graduate school and showed how much she · valued their friendship. Cathy had a flair for life, and her tremendous energy and can-do attitude guided her more than 30-year career at the Marine Biological Laboratory. A graduate of Regis College, Cathy came to the MBL in 1980 as a member of the MBLWHOI Library staff and earned a Masters degree in Information Science from Simmons College in 1984. In 1991, as the electronic frontier began to enhance information access, Cathy embraced change to become the MBL's first Director of Information Systems. In 1994, she was appointed Library Director and became a leader in promoting the digital library and open access.
During her tenure she spearheaded the development of uBio, a digital biodiversity database that served as a foundation for the subsequent Encyclopedia of Life project. She helped develop an innovative Biomedical Informatics course sponsored by the National Library of Medicine designed to enable biomedical researchers and practitioners to embrace the power of technology. Cathy was also a founding member and served as Chairman of the Biodiversity Heritage Library, a worldwide collaboration of libraries and museums making biodiversity literature freely available. In 2011 Cathy retired as MBLWHOI Library Director and was named Library Scholar.
Beyond the MBL, Cathy was a Justice of the Peace for 39 years, marrying many happy couples on the beaches and back porches of Cape Cod. She was a member of the Falmouth School Committee, served as a consultant to the National Library of Medicine, was president of the Boston Library Consortium, and most recently was the Falmouth Representative to the Steamship Authority's Board of Governors. She was instrumental in naming the new vessel "Woods Hole" that will be serving the islands from the Mainland.
Everyone who knew her has a “Cathy story” – how she inspired them with a project, connected them with another collaborator, worked her “magic” to make the seemingly impossible a reality, or made them laugh, especially with stories of weddings she presided over as a Justice of the Peace.
A memorial Mass will be celebrated at 11 a.m. on Saturday, December 27th at St. Patrick’s Church, 511 Main Street, Falmouth. Interment private. A reception to follow at The Beach House Restaurant, 17 Nathan Ellis Hwy, North Falmouth.
The Marine Biological Laboratory has established an endowed fund in Cathy’s honor, and its flag will be lowered in her memory. The family has requested that in lieu of flowers, please make donations to the Catherine N. Norton Fellowship at the Marine Biological Laboratory, www.mbl.edu/research/norton-fellowship.