Marcella Diana (LaFountain) Norton, Escanaba, passed away peacefully on August 24 at Rose Arbor Hospice, in Kalamazoo, MI at the age of 90.
She was born November 21, 1930, to Joseph and Alice LaFountain in Hendricks, Michigan. She was the oldest of three children. Her sister, Aurora Zimmerman, and her brother, Phillip LaFountain, both preceded her in death.
Marcella married the “dashing” Naval Officer Ralph “Bud” Norton in January of 1949. They moved to the eastern seaboard where Bud was stationed in the U.S. Navy. She loved living in Rhode Island and being an officer’s wife. At the end of the Korean Conflict, she and her husband moved back to Escanaba where they made their home for 71 years. They raised their seven children, enjoyed their beautiful home overlooking Ludington Park, and spent many summers at their cottage in Ford River.
Marcella was a superb athlete and serious competitor. In her younger years, she was an avid golfer at the Escanaba Country Club and a league bowler. At the age of 45, she took up downhill skiing. Within a few years, she was competing in NASTAR racing in slalom, giant slalom, and downhill. She wintered in Georgetown, Colorado where she trained like she was entering the Olympics. In 1991 she finished first in the giant slalom at the Master’s National Championship in Vail, Colorado. It was during her training in Colorado that she decided to take up biking in the summer to help her stay in shape. In the summer of 1991, she won 4 gold medals in the Upper Peninsula Cycling Championship. She never was satisfied with doing well she always strived for being the best. In all of her competitions, whether skiing or cycling, her goal was always to beat the men’s time!!!
She loved the hunt for the perfect antique and could spend hours walking around antique shops looking for that “perfect find”. She could wield a sledgehammer when remodeling houses and paint better than the pros. Her family always joked that she knew more ways to clean with a toothbrush than anyone thought possible.
She also loved to travel and couldn't pass up an adventure. During her lifetime she visited many different countries: Taiwan, Germany, France, Canada, Ecuador (experiencing the Galapagos Islands), Thailand, Nepal (trekking over 16,000 feet to the base camp on Mount Kilimanjaro), Scotland, and South Africa (camping in the bush to observe wild African animals in their native habitat).
Marcella is survived by her seven children, Lani Way, Laura (Scott) Johnson, Mark Norton (Gaye Smaniotto), Holly Norton (Mike Lum), Jeff (Theresa) Norton, Ruth (Jim) O’Toole, and Scott Norton (Christine Pezel); along with nine grandchildren and six great-grandchildren.
Her husband Ralph “Bud” Norton, her parents Joseph and Alice LaFountain, her sister Aurora Zimmerman and her brother Phillip LaFountain preceded Marcella in death.
In lieu of flowers, her family requests that donations be made to the Salvation Army of Escanaba or Hospice Care of Southwest Michigan, 7100 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo, 49009.
A celebration of life for Marcella and her husband Bud will take place at the Allo Coolman Funeral Home (400 S. 10th St., Escanaba, MI 49829) at 1:30 p.m. with Pastor Paul Culbertson officiating on Thursday September 9, 2021. Friends may call from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on Thursday at the funeral home. Entombment for Marcella will follow in the Gardens of Rest Mausoleum.
Please visit www.allofh.com to send online condolences to her family.