Remembering Darlene Norton, Professor Emerita
Darlene Norton, Professor Emerita, educator, leader, community health worker, nurse practitioner, mentor and patient advocate, passed away Jan. 13, 2024 in Albuquerque, N.M.
Darlene came to the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center School of Nursing in 1984 and helped develop the new TTUHSC SON curricula for the Masters Program including the Family Nurse Practitioner track with Dr. Nancy Ridenour, Director, and Dr. Teddy Jones, Founding Dean. Her husband, Dr. Bill Norton, was a physician at TTU’s Student Health Center where he was also a preceptor for nurse practitioner students.
She was a graduate of Deaconess Hospital School of Nursing, St, Louis, Mercy College of Detroit, and The University of Colorado Health Sciences Center. She was an early adopter of the Nurse Practitioner role (1975) and held a Nurse Practitioner Certificate from the University of Colorado School of Nursing
She practiced nursing in a wide variety of community settings in Lubbock, including the Homeless Health Program at the Community Health Center of Lubbock, Guadalupe Clinic, Neighborhood House, the Lubbock State School, Bethphage Community Services, Occupational Health at TTUHSC, South Plains Health Providers, and the Lubbock Well Baby Clinic at UMC. She modeled the role of the community health nurse and the Nurse Practitioner to hundreds of undergraduate and graduate students.
Prior to coming to the TTUHSC SON, Darlene worked in Colorado where she established an independent nursing practice for primary care. She worked with Migrant Health Programs, Head Start, and schools to improve family health. While living in Mexico City, she developed deep love for the culture and language. She had strong connection with Native American art and poetry.
She was considered a master teacher, role model, and mentor. Her students became leaders, educators, and nurse practitioners in multiple rural and urban centers. She inspired students to stay true to the art and science of nursing and to honor the nurse-patient relationship. Her caring, empathetic communication and presence was powerful in developing successful professional nurses and advanced practitioners. She served on many thesis committees for graduate students and was regarded as key to student success.
She and Dr. Ken Ketner were pioneers in developing a course in “Human Caring” which they taught together. Her continued work and relationship with Dr. Ketner was foundational in the support of the nursing profession and the School of Nursing.
After retiring from TTUHSC, she and her husband, Dr. Bill Norton moved to Albuquerque where she practiced and volunteered at the Albuquerque Health Care for the Homeless. She continued to work as Adjunct Faculty for the TTUHSC SON in teaching FNP students from 2007 to 2011. She and Bill traveled to El Paso so Darlene could make onsite visits for FNP students and collaborate with clinical partners to increase clinic student opportunities. She had a deep love for rural communities and connected frequently with rural preceptors.
In addition to local, state, national, and international presentations, Darlene published scholarly articles, served on many boards to advance nursing, and served as a consultant for community health leaders in Lima, Peru. She received multiple excellence in practice awards and was a mentor to many of the Nurse Practitioner faculty.
She was preceded in death by her husband of 59 years, Dr. Bill Norton. She is survived by her daughter Molly Norton and grandchildren Callum and Catlin and her son David Norton and grandchildren Edward and William.
In 2001, she and Bill established the Darlene A. and Bill Norton Nurse Practitioner Scholarship Endowment to award scholarships to TTUHSC Nurse Practitioner students who intend to work in underserved areas upon graduation. Since 2015, this scholarship has awarded $23,500 to more than 20 students.
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