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Thomas Akin Norton

August 4, 1922 April 13, 2016
Thomas Akin Norton
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Obituary for Thomas Akin Norton

Thomas Akin Norton, AIA, Emeritus, architect and award-winning yacht designer, died peacefully on April 13, 2016, in Providence, RI. He was surrounded by family and friends. He was 93.

Mr. Norton was born August 4th, 1922 in Great Neck, Long Island, N.Y. He was the grandson of Edwin Norton, inventor and co-founder of American Can, and later Continental Can companies. His maternal grandfather was Louis Koemenich, composer and conductor of the Brooklyn Oratorio Society.
In 1939, Mr. Norton entered Columbia College in New York City. His tenure at Columbia was interrupted in 1941, when he enlisted in the Army Air Corps. As a B-17 bomber pilot, Mr. Norton flew 35 combat missions in the 8th Air Force, 91st Bomb group, 322nd Squadron. Mr. Norton achieved the rank of First Lieutenant and was awarded the Air Medal with five bronze oak leaf clusters.

After his military service, Mr. Norton returned to Columbia College where he earned a BA, then graduating in 1949 with a Bachelor of Architecture from Columbia’s Graduate School of Architecture. While at Columbia, Mr. Norton was a member of the Fraternity of Delta Psi.
He was employed by several leading architectural firms, including Skidmore, Owings and Merrill, and Sherwood, Mills and Smith. In 1967, he co-founded Norton and Hume, Architects, leaving in 1972 to become the Director of Architecture for Rockefeller Center. His designs earned him praise from his peers, as well as numerous awards. He entered into private practice in 1978, where he continued his career until his retirement in 2004.
An avid sailor, Mr. Norton designed and built a number of racing/cruising sailboats, including Tartan Marine’s "Tartan 26," and the popular "X-21", a fast day sailor, as well as other personal and private designs. He was a member of the New York Yacht Club.
Mr. Norton was very active in local theater in both Connecticut and Rhode Island. He is also the author of a book of short stories called "The Sound of Colors" and a book of poetry entitled "People, Times & Places"

Mr. Norton is survived by his wife, Ann Wood Norton, as well as by three ex-wives: Helen Platt of Morristown, NJ, Julia Work of Hopkinton, RI, and the Rev. Barbara Chaffee of Raleigh, NC; seven children: Lynn Norton of Ridgefield, CT, Lincoln Norton of San Antonio, TX, Michael Platt of Austin, TX, Stephen Norton of Wakefield, MA, Jennie Norton (dec), Emily Norton of Duluth, MN, and Laura Jacquier of Paris, France; eleven grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

A memorial service will be held on April 30, at 3pm in the historic chapel at Swan Point Cemetery, 585 Blackstone Blvd., Providence, RI, followed by a short internment ceremony and a catered gathering onsite. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the RI Veteran’s Home, Bristol, RI, or to Hope Hospice and Palliative Care, Providence, RI.


A memorial service will be held on April 30, at 3pm in the historic chapel at Swan Point Cemetery, 585 Blackstone Blvd., Providence, RI, followed by a short internment ceremony and a catered gathering onsite. In lieu of flowers, please consider a donation to the RI Veteran’s Home, Bristol, RI, or to Hope Hospice and Palliative Care, Providence, RI.

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