Mary Frances Norton

Mary Frances Norton

LANCASTER—Mary Frances Norton died at her home in Lancaster on November 2. She was 96.

Fran was born in Newport News August 2, 1925, to the late William Delbert Fox and Eva Lou Fox (nee Hunt). She married O’Quinn Norton in 1946, and in 1967 the family moved to Culpeper. She remained in Culpeper until moving to Lancaster in 1984.

Fran’s warmth and magnetic personality made her many friends wherever she lived. Her three sons grew used to meeting strangers who, in a moment of recognition, would suddenly say, “Oh, you’re Fran’s son!”—always with a smile, often with a remark on what a special person she was.

While a homemaker and a loving and attentive mother, she somehow found time and energy to work outside the home: as a receptionist in a doctor’s office in Newport News and in the state fire marshal’s office in Culpeper, where she also had a successful career in real estate. She later spent decades doing volunteer work at Seconds Unlimited thrift shop in Kilmarnock, which benefited Rappahannock General Hospital, until retiring at age 92. Her lifelong loves included reading and gardening, both of which she pursued as long as her health would allow.   

At age 81 and living alone in a rural area, she valiantly (“foolishly,” she said) agreed to adopt a lab-poodle mix puppy who grew into a lovable but headstrong 95-pound dog. Willie would be her beloved companion for the rest of her life. In her last years, her aim was to “see Willie out”—as unlikely as that seemed, as her health declined and Willie lived well past his expected lifespan. She succeeded through sheer willpower, surviving Willie by less than 2 months. 

She was predeceased by her former husband, O’Quinn Norton; her brother, William D. Fox Jr.; and a sister, Colleen Fox.

Survivors include her sons, Gary Norton (Ginny Gubser) of Charlottesville, Curtis Norton (Kate Stansbury) of Lancaster and Bruce Norton (Gwen Norton) of Culpeper; a sister, Vivian Graham of Lancaster; and numerous nieces and nephews.

She will be remembered by family and friends for her kindness, generosity, humor, and her indomitable spirit.   

Donations may be made to the Animal Welfare League of the Northern Neck, P.O. Box 975, White Stone, VA 22578.