The town of Elkin is mourning the loss of one of its elected officials Saturday as Bob Norton died at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center following a battle with cancer. The flag at town hall was ordered lowered to half-staff Saturday by Mayor Sam Bishop when he received the news.
Norton, who was elected as a town commissioner in 2013, was diagnosed with cancer a couple of months before Lestine Hutchens, former mayor, ended her term on the board in the fall of 2016. She said Saturday evening, shortly after getting word of Norton’s death, that he will be remembered as an “honorable man.”
Hutchens, as well as Commissioners Terry Kennedy and Dr. Skip Whitman, all agreed that Norton went out of his way to protect taxpayers’ money, thoroughly investigating all options and asking all questions before making a decision on how to move forward with spending.
“He was the watchdog, and he wanted to make sure we had exhausted every possible means before we spent taxpayers’ money,” said Whitman Saturday.
Norton, 71, was dedicated to his service to the town. Whitman said he would attend town meetings after his chemo treatments, and just three weeks ago, he left the board retreat early to get a chemo treatment.
“He will be missed, there is no doubt about it. No matter who is appointed to the board, it will not be the same,” Whitman said. “I’ll miss him. I sat next to him.”
“I think he was very dedicated to the town,” said Kennedy. “He was a fiscal conservative as far as spending taxpayer money.”
He remembered Norton was the elected official who encouraged the board to approve having area courts set up for pickle ball for the residents who wanted to play.
“I think all around, he was very civic-minded, great to work with and very conscientious of how he spent taxpayer money,” Kennedy said. “He will be missed. I know I’ll miss him.”
Prior to election as commissioner, Hutchens said Norton served on the town’s Planning Board, and until his diagnosis, he was a bus driver for Elkin City Schools, a job he took after retirement.
“He was a great guy. He had firm strong opinions on spending money and he wasn’t afraid of voicing those,” said Hutchens. “He had a good sense of humor, we very straight talking about what he believed in and took care of the taxpayers’ money.”
“The board’s never going to be the same, because we’re not going to have Bob’s input,” said Whitman. “Bob was a real ‘people’s’ person. He was there for the people.”
A memorial service will be held Wednesday at First Baptist Church of Elkin. Full funeral arrangements can be found on page 2 of Monday’s Tribune, or online at elkintribune.com.
Wendy Byerly Wood may be reached at 336-258-4035 or on Twitter @wendywoodeditor.