Kenneth Emerson Norton

Feb. 12, 1949 – Jan. 7, 2022


January 20, 2022

Kenneth Emerson Norton obituary

Our beloved brother and uncle Kenneth Emerson Norton passed from a heart attack on Jan. 7, 2022. Ken was born Feb. 12, 1949, in Walla Walla, Wash., to John H. and Barbara (Woods) Norton.

Ken lived briefly in Waitsburg, Wash., after which the family moved to Oakesdale, Wash., where he resided until his death. He graduated from Oakesdale High School in 1967. He briefly attended WSU and Spokane Community College. He also became certified as a Heavy Equipment operator after attending schooling in Florida.

Ken lived at the family home and was also a caregiver for Mom and Dad in their later years. Ken never married, but he loved his nieces and nephews, many great-nieces and great-nephews.

He was an avid collector of model trains and attended many model train swap meets and shows in the Inland Northwest, he also collected stamps and vinyl records. He built a train layout in a single-wide trailer, which he had remodeled to resemble a train caboose to showcase his trains and a train trestle he had built from wooden dowls. The "caboose" was located next to our family home. Making towns and hills resembling the farming area, (like the hills of the Palouse) for his trains to travel through on multiple levels inside the trailer. He often opened the display to the public during the Oakesdale Old Mill Days celebrations. It was enjoyed by many.

Ken could be considered a farmer first, as he farmed with our father for 40+ years. Like many farm kids, he started young and he was a jack of all trades. From fixing equipment, welding, engine repair, driving tractor, riding the hay slip or pulling the bailer, driving combine and truck during harvest, working cows and feeding chickens, he was busy. Spring and fall planting every year, good or bad weather. The majority of his farming days were spent on our aunt's family farm. After our father retired, Ken was asked to stay on farming, but was unable to afford to do so. He then worked for other farmers in the community until his retirement due to ill health. It's a surety that many in Oakesdale would see Ken and Dad driving out to work at the ranch early in the morning, returning to town for lunch and back again for the afternoon. They were constant companions until our father passed.

There was never a topic of conversation that Ken couldn't contribute a fact or know something about. He was interested in music, history, geology, science, nature, and wildlife. He could answer almost any engine repair question, identify any train locomotive engine or the make model of any tractor. Later he and Dad would attend garage sales in the surrounding towns, looking for the perfect collectible, old vinyl record or VHS movie. He enjoyed meeting new people and making conversation.

He is survived by his two sisters, Melissa (Jerry) Hanley Palouse, Wash., and Theresa (Roger) Pfaff, Garfield, Wash., he was preceded in death his parents, several aunts, uncles, cousins and by our brother William A. Norton. He is survived by two nieces, six nephews and several great-nieces and great-nephews. He is also survived by numerous special cousins, many of whom live in the area. We also know that he was beloved by many in the Oakesdale community and our thanks to those who cared about Ken. He will truly be missed.

Contributions may be made to the Oakesdale Historical Society and The McCoy Valley Museum, P.O. Box 112, Oakesdale, WA 99158 or the Inland Northwest Rail Museum P.O. Box 471 Reardan, WA 99029.

In accordance with his wishes, no services will be held. Ken will be laid to rest next to our parents in a private ceremony at the Oakesdale Cemetery at a later date. The Neptune Society is in charge of cremation.


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