Marianne Craft Norton

Wednesday, May 31, 2023 3:11 am

Marianne Craft Norton was born March 14, 1931 in Hudson, Iowa, the daughter of Margaret Brandhorst Craft and Vaughn Craft.

She graduated from Hudson High School, and then attended the University of Iowa, where she graduated in 1952 with a degree in political science. After receiving a Danforth Foundation Fellowship at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst and working for a year at the United Nations in New York, she enrolled at Stanford University. She graduated in 1956 as one of the first women there to receive a master’s degree in political science. At Stanford she also met Bob Norton, whom she married in Hudson in 1956. Marianne and Bob were married for 61 years (until Bob passed away in 2018), and during this time together they raised three children: Kurt, Helen, and Rolf. After their wedding, Marianne and Bob lived briefly in Newton Highlands, Massachusetts; Petersburg, Virginia; Duluth, Minnesota; Corvallis, Oregon; Moses Lake, Washington; and Westfield, New Jersey before settling down in the Seattle area in 1965.
Marianne and Bob lived in the Seattle are for nearly 25 years. During this time Marianne was an active leader in the public policy community, where her work included serving as executive director of the Washington State Women’s Council, as state president of the American Association of University Women (AAUW), and as Washington state director of John Anderson’s 1980 Presidential campaign. Her many leadership roles also included those in the Initiative 276 Campaign for Open Government, the Washington Environmental Council, and at Pilgrim Lutheran Church. She twice ran for public office: for the state legislature in 1976 and for King County Council in 1984.

Marianne and Bob moved to Bluffton, Iowa in 1989, where they continued to operate the Craft’s Inc. farm started by Marianne’s parents. Together they raised Jacob’s sheep (a rare breed notable for its gentle temperament and distinctive fleece and horns) along with guard donkeys. She was a leader in the Jacob Sheep Breeders’ Association, and remained active in AAUW and Hauge Lutheran Church.

Marianne died on Monday, May 29, 2023, at the Eastern Star Home in Decorah, at age 92. She was preceded in death by Bob, by her parents, and by her brother Rolf Craft. Marianne was smart, curious, courageous, and kind. She took great joy in many things—especially her animals and the Iowa Hawkeyes’ women’s basketball team; and she brought great joy to many.

She is survived by her three children, Rolf, Helen, and Kurt; and by her grandsons Victor and Gabrio.
In lieu of flowers, memorial donations to the Barthell Eastern Star Home may be sent to 911 Ridgewood Drive, Decorah, IA 52101

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