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Former CMLifer and Morning Sun reporter Mindy Norton remembered for diligent work, strong friendships

Mindy Norton (Courtesy of the Morning Sun)

Mindy Norton was considered a rock, mentor and friend to everyone she knew in her 36-year journalism career. 

Norton began her journalism career working at Central Michigan Life, then started as a reporter for the Morning Sun just weeks after graduating salutatorian in the Class of 1984 from Central Michigan University.

After a long battle with cancer, Norton died at the age of 57 on June 29 at her home in Greenville.

Rick Mills was Norton’s editor for about 25 years at the Morning Sun. Mills said that Norton was one of the most diligent workers he had ever seen. 

During their staff meetings when reporters would be given deadlines and major editorial assignments, Mills would be writing everything down frantically on pen and paper and Norton would simply sit there and listen.

“She never missed a deadline," Mills said. "I always thought it was unusual because she was always totally engaged in the conversation, never taking notes and would just remember every single thing that was said."

Mills said that Norton would work the late-night shifts Tuesday through Saturday and would sometimes get home as late as 2 a.m.

“I always feared that I had to assign someone the night shift, but she absolutely loved it," Mills said. "She was a night owl."

Mills explained that because of her late shifts, Norton bonded with many of the younger reporters. 

“They would get back from a late breaking news story and she would often be the only one left in the office so they would talk to her about everything,” Mills said.

One of Norton’s own favorite stories was fulfilling the goal of so many old-school journalists. In 2000, when the presses were running and declaring Al Gore as president before Florida results were in, she was able to run into the production facility and scream, “Stop the presses!”

Norton worked with longtime journalist Lisa Litwiller and became very close friends throughout their years together at the Morning Sun.

“When I met Mindy, I was a 20-something know-it-all," Litwiller said. "While she insisted on early deadlines and polished work, she never told me to grow up … and she probably should have.

“Instead, for decades, she led by example, demonstrating clarity and grace and attention to details.”

Norton's leadership as the first female editor that Litwiller had in her career helped her form her path in journalism. 

“She held my children as infants, held a drink on the dancefloor with me a couple of times ... and she held the door open so more women could be heard in newsrooms,” Litwiller said.

Norton is known for her coverage of Mt. Pleasant city government as a freelance reporter, where she worked closely with City Manager Nancy Ridley.

“Mindy was one of the best reporters I have worked with and I will miss her,” Ridley said. “She was a kind soul who believed in the power that the press has to shape issues and wanted to make sure what she wrote was accurate and fair every time.”

Ridley recalled their meetings, twice a month, at the end Norton would always say, “I’m going to turn off my recorder and put down my pen” and then proceed to have a personal conversation with Ridley. 

“City managers are trained that they are never ‘off the record,'” Ridley said. “But never once did Mindy betray our follow-up discussions.”

Mindy will be remembered by her coworkers and friends for her years of contributing journalistic excellence to the Morning Sun.

Funeral services will be held at 11 a.m. July 3 at St. Charles Church in Greenville.

Norton was preceded in death by her mother, Patricia, in 2013, and her father, Manus E. Norton, in 2012.