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John and Doris Norton


John Norton, III is a third-generation Arizonan, born and raised in Phoenix. He spent two years at Stanford University before transferring to the University of Arizona where in 1950 he earned a Bachelor of Science in Agriculture. After graduation, John went on to serve his country as a First Lieutenant in the United States Air Force.

Agriculture was a way of life for John. In 1955, John founded J.R. Norton Company, a business engaged in diversified agricultural production in Arizona and California and involving year-round production of lettuce and the seasonal production of strawberries, cantaloupes, honeydews, citrus, asparagus, cotton, wheat, alfalfa, and other crops. The company also ran cattle feeding and ranching operations.

In 1985 President Ronald Reagan appointed John as Deputy Secretary of the United States Department of Agriculture. During his time in Washington, DC, working closely farmers, ranchers, and agri-business companies to improve their economic viability, John was instrumental in shaping national policy in support of production agriculture and ranching.

John’s success in business and government has dovetailed well with his volunteer service. He chaired the college’s Bartley P. Cardon Endowed Chair Campaign Committee, which raised $1.5 million to support a professor’s research, teaching, and outreach in agri-business policy. Currently, he serves on the UA Foundation Board of Directors, the Ag 100 Council, and the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences Development Committee. .

For his dedicated service to his school, he has received the Alumnus of the Year Award from the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences and the UA Alumni Association Bear Down and Distinguished Citizen Award, and was presented with a UA honorary doctor of laws degree. For his service to his country, he was given the USDA Secretary’s Award for Meritorious Achievement. Today, John is the director and past chair of the Goldwater Institute and the St. Joseph’s Foundation, and is the director of the New Directions Institute. He is also a corporate director with the Apollo Group and Shamrock Foods Company.

In 1950, John married Doris Schaefer, a student he met at Bear Down Gym dance, Doris was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota and came to Arizona with her family in 1946. She graduated from the UA in 1950. They are the proud parents of Michael R. Norton, John P. Norton, and Melanie Norton-Robinson. As parents, John and Doris have built a successful family from what they have characterized as a foundation of love and family support. This strong foundation has also impacted the College of Agriculture and Life Sciences in positive ways. In 2000, for instance, John and Doris created the John R. and Doris S. Norton Endowed Chair for Fathers, Parenting, and Families, and in 2004, to name the School of Family and Consumer Sciences, they pledged $4 million. Thanks to John and Doris, the University of Arizona will have the opportunity to conduct new, cutting-edge research, offer more classes, and provide community outreach, all of which will help the School to reach its goal of becoming the best in the nation.

Doris Norton Bio

Doris Norton was born Doris Schaefer to a family of South Dakota merchants and ranchers. Following her graduation from high school in Sioux Falls , the family moved to Phoenix in 1946. She refers this event as the beginning of the rest of her life. Doris attended the University of Arizona , where she pledged Kappa Gamma and met her future husband, John R. Norton. They married in 1950, and since then Doris has dedicated herself to her family, her community, and her country. To these tasks she is well suited. All who know her describe her as one of the most positive-minded and outgoing people they have ever known, as well as a woman committed to helping others through mutual understanding and by building bridges rather than walls. Her husband calls her, “the Rock” and credits her with much of his own professional success. During the years he served in President Reagan’s cabinet, she worked in Nancy Reagan’s office in the White House collecting and collating all the many news articles about the Reagans. Doris and John have traveled all over the world visiting over 70 countries in every continent. Currently, Doris also serves as a Co-Chair for Campaign Cornerstones and is a member of the Women’s Board of the Barrows Neurological Center . Together, Doris and John have built a successful family based on the values of personal responsibility, integrity and achievement. They are the proud parents of three children, Michael R. Norton, John P. Norton, and Melanie Norton-Robinson. In 2002, John and Doris created the John R. and Doris S. Norton Endowed Chair for Fathers, parenting, and Families, and in 2004, they pledged $4 million to the School of Family and Consumer Sciences. As a result, the School will be able to conduct cutting-edge research, offer more and better instruction, and provide much needed community outreach.


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