The Life of Andrew J. Norton
Andrew J. Norton, MD, FACP of Blue Bell, Pennsylvania, passed peacefully into his eternal, heavenly home on Sunday, September 6, 2020, at Lankenau Medical Center, surrounded by his beloved wife Deyonne Epperson and his loving family.
Dr. Norton, always humble and unassuming, encouraged everyone to call him Andy instead of Doctor Norton. Andy was born March 26, 1956, in Buffalo, New York, to Dr. James F. Norton and Mary E. Falk. Andy spent his childhood growing up in East Aurora, New York. Andy attended Stella Niagara Military School then Canisius High School and earned his undergraduate degree from Saint Louis University. The son of a general practitioner, he followed in his father’s footsteps, attending Jefferson Medical College, where he completed his medical degree. He then moved to the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW), where he completed his residency in internal medicine and spent the next 30 years. From 1997–2011 Andy served as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer for Froedtert Hospital, affiliated with the Medical College of Wisconsin (MCW) in Milwaukee, where he was Professor of Clinical Medicine. Andy is a past chair of the Chief Medical Officer Group of the Association of American Medical Colleges. He maintained an ambulatory clinical practice in general internal medicine for 27 years in his adopted home of Milwaukee.
Since 2012, Andy served as Senior Vice President and Chief Medical Officer at Main Line Health. He took great pleasure in educating medical students and residents at Lankenau Medical Center. From the moment he arrived, Andy made it clear that education was one of his passions and that he wished to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for the practice of medicine with young learners. In addition to being a passionate teacher, he enjoyed being a lifelong learner. He never stopped reading and going to conferences, and delighted in talking about journal articles he had read with others. A generation of internal medicine physicians has been influenced by Andy and will continue his legacy of passion for medicine, education, and care for his fellow human beings. His legacy will live on through his students and mentees.
Andy held a unique place at Main Line Health. He was not simply the “head physician,” but he was the primary driver for change in how to practice safer, better, equitable, and patient-centered medicine in his hospitals. A provocative thinker, he was always challenging the status quo and took great satisfaction and special pride in doing so. He knew that being the fulcrum for evolving care was his necessary and defining responsibility. “How we’ve always done it” was a concept he vehemently rejected as unacceptable. He was a mentor to more than he knew, and he had little idea of his importance to each of them. Wryly self-deprecating, proud but unassuming, he was firm while always warm, kind, and considerate. He was a strong and imaginative leader without ego and was an especially strong proponent of physician and nursing partnership.
One of his greatest recent professional achievements was his leadership of Main Line Health system’s response to COVID-19. He drove a coordinated strategy and became the system’s visible face of the efforts, working limitless hours to present a calm and thoughtful response to the pandemic.
Six years ago, Andy met the love of his life, Deyonne Epperson. Soon after meeting, Andy and Deyonne developed an abiding friendship and soon a deep, inseparable love for each other. Best friends, they married in May of 2019 and built a beautiful life together. They enjoyed a wonderful, adventurous and meaningful life filled with shared interests of traveling, golfing, biking, and spending time with family, friends, and each other. They also enjoyed trips into downtown Philadelphia going to museums, dinner, and various events.
Andy was preceded in death by his parents. He is survived by his beloved wife Deyonne, whom he adored; his children, whom he deeply loved and was extremely proud of, Aryn, Caleb, Mackenzie, Samuel (Mollie) and grandson Dean; his stepdaughter, Stephanie (Chris) Rakic; and his grandsons, Ante and Arion. He also leaves behind his siblings, with whom he had a close relationship, Mary Jo (Jay) Geaman, James F. Norton, Jr. (Sharon), Elizabeth (Philip) Colarusso, William (Christine) Norton, Helen (Robert) Hasselback; as well as cousins, his family by marriage, and numerous nieces, and nephews.
Andy was without question a man of integrity. He was a loving, giving, and caring person. He had a way of making everyone feel included and valued. Andy was loved and admired by all who knew him. Even though his wife, family, friends, colleagues, and the entire Main Line Health community feel a deep pain and sorrow in our hearts from his passing, we celebrate the fact that he is at peace in God’s loving arms.
The family respectfully requests that in lieu of flowers, for those interested, contributions be made in his memory to the Andrew J. Norton, MD Memorial Fund at Main Line Health by sending a check made payable to “Main Line Health,” with “Dr. Norton Memorial Fund” indicated in the memo section, to the following address:
Main Line Health Development
240 North Radnor Chester Road Suite 340
Radnor, PA 19087
A private memorial service to celebrate Andy’s life will be on Saturday, September 26, 2020, at 11:00 a.m. EST at St. Charles Borromeo Seminary, Chapel of the Immaculate Conception.
The memorial service will be for family only but will be open to all who wish to attend via online livestream. To access the link for the livestream, go to https://mlhevents.webex.com/mlhevents/onstage/g.php?MTID=e5fa0ff0bfb69dadf6ade72edfd66036c
Please leave your comments and condolences for the family on the obituary page of the website.
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I've known Andy since freshman year of college in 1974. He was a unique character from Buffalo NY and a fellow pre-med student. He was able to participate in college life and still maintain incredible grades in pursuit of gaining admission into medical school. He could party, study for an hour and ace all his tests in class. We became roommates when he informed Brad and me that he would be moving into our apartment as well. It was Andy's subtle way of getting what he wanted. We maintained a relationship over the years and actually married 6 weeks apart while both of us participated as groomsmen in each other's wedding. While our in person visits were not often we could pick up the phone and talk like we always did as if no time had passed. While we had vastly different political views I always enjoyed how we could agree to disagree in very civil tones. One of the last conversations we had was him telling me he was going to convince me to vote for his candidate and me telling him that wasn't going to happen. I will miss my friend and still hear his voice and that distinctive laugh that was his alone. Rest In Peace my friend until we meet again.
Andy & I worked together a long time ago at Mercy Hospital in South Buffalo, NY. He was an orderly & was an LPN. We had many "fun" times working on 4 Center, especially n the 8 bed ward! Unfortunately. we had lost contact with each other. He was a fun & kind soul. I am so sorry for your loss.
I met Andy as an intern when he was a third year medical resident. I was on a medical rotation and he was the team leader. His approach to teaching and health care remain with me. I still remember doing rounds with him late at night traveling around the hospital in wheel chairs. When I returned to MCW in 1992 he was still there ultimately as the CMO. He was always available and would respond to my call. When he left MCW it was a loss for medical education and leadership. My condolences to his family. I will always remember that smile.
I had the honor and privilege of working with Andy during his tenure as Chief Medical Offcier for Froedtert Hospital. He was also my personal physician. He had an uncanny ability to befriend and disarm those whose own personal agenda was at odds with the overall mission and focus of the organization. He built many bridges among different groups who historically did not work well together. He always enjoyed his rotations with residents even though it took time from his already full schedule. His focus was the patients and what was best for them. He always had time to ask and chat about our kids as we were both raising our children during that time going through the various stages of parenting. His advice and support as my primary physician guided me on a path of wellness that has continued to this day.
A mentor indeed
I knew Andy from my work at MLH. We interacted a great deal from the time he arrived at MLH but during the time I spent in an interim VP role was when I really got to know Andy better. He was so supportive and helpful to me, making time for me several hours a week to make sure that I had what was needed. What a great mentor for which I will always be grateful. His smile and laugh was infectious. Though we didn't always agree, he was always collegial. With all he had to remember and despite the numerous directions in which he was pulled, he always found time to tease me about my love for NASCAR. In turn I would tease him about being "blue", which made him laugh. (MLH colleagues will be familiar with how we learned what 'colors' we are to help us better understand ourselves and how we relate to others. Blue traits include being emotionally driven, enthusiastic, creative, sympathetic, desires to create harmony in groups.) Andy was truly 'blue' at heart. That's how I will always remember him. RIP Andy. Sharon DiRienzo