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Ms. Val Norton

Ms. Val Norton

Friday, January 1st, 2021
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Obituary

Val Norton, 87, passed away peacefully after a recent illness on New Year’s Day, 2021 in St. Louis. Val Wayne Goff was born to Beulah Mae and Joe Harry Goff on July 2, 1933 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. Her half-brother, Harry, was ten years her senior. As a child she loved animals, riding her horse, and playing the piano. She earned a bachelor’s and master's degree in music from the University of Tulsa, where she studied piano with the Hungarian composer and concert pianist, Béla Rózsa. At age 20, Val was the recipient of the Young Artists Award offered by the Women’s Association of the Tulsa Philharmonic Society, and won the privilege of performing Bartok’s Third Concerto for Piano and Orchestra with the Tulsa Philharmonic. Three years later, she was awarded a Fulbright Scholarship to study piano with Edith Picht-Axelfeld at the music conservatory in Freiburg, Germany. While abroad, Val toured throughout Germany, performing both solo and chamber music concerts.

Upon her return to the States, Val enrolled at Indiana University as a doctoral student, studying piano with Sidney Foster, her most influential and inspiring teacher. During this time, she performed some of the most difficult music ever composed for the piano, including Bach’s Goldberg Variations, the Brahms Second Piano Concerto, the Bartok Second Concerto for Piano and Orchestra, and Liszt’s Transcendental Études. In 1959, she married Lew Bennett Norton, a young bass player she had met at Tulsa University. The couple started a family in Tulsa and Val worked as head of the piano department at Oral Roberts University.

In 1968, when Lew became a bassist in the New York Philharmonic, the couple moved with their two daughters to New York City. Here, Val gave recitals, taught voice at the Barnard School for Girls, offered piano lessons, and coached actors in voice. She loved living in New York and took full advantage of the concerts and cultural events the city had to offer. In her later years, Val enjoyed socializing with friends and family, visiting Cape Cod, singing in a chorus, and listening to her grandson play the piano and violin. Val is predeceased by Lew, her husband of 56 years, and Hal Buechler, her companion of four years. She is survived by her daughter Kathryn and son-in law Robert Remillard of Bourne, Massachusetts; her daughter Sydney, son-in law Gabriel Shapiro, and grandson Arthur Norton-Shapiro of St. Louis; her brother-in-law George Gary Norton, and two nieces, Kelly Fischer and Polly Schott of Houston. Val will be sorely missed by her family and by her lifelong friends, Donna O’Hare, Myra Starr, John Carabella, and Ed Morse. A memorial gathering for Val will be held at a later date in 2021.
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