>Alice Ragsdale Norton, 1905-2007

>On Friday, July 6, 2007, Bessemer lost one of its oldest and most revered citizens, Mrs. Alice Ragsdale Norton. Mrs. Norton was a friend and neighbor of mine, and was 102 years old when she died. Those who knew her were aware, but for those who did not, she was the organist for the First United Methodist Church in Bessemer for 75 years. Yes, that is correct. I last heard her play at the church last summer.

Mrs. Norton also amazed me when last year she told me she had lived in her house on Arlington Avenue for 100 years. Actually I know she lived away from there for a time, but she did live there 100 years ago, and she lived there when she died.

Mrs. Norton knew every owner of our house, which is also around 100 years old. Can you imagine Bessemer 100 years ago, when these fine old homes were first built, and baby Alice playing in the yard of her parents Victorian home, when the trains that ran so close to her home were in their hey day. Her parents would have just a few years before been a part of Bessemer’s New Year’s celebration when the new century began. Just after the next century mark, I moved here and immediately became aware of Mrs. Norton and her contributions to this city.

Think of all the changes Bessemer has seen in her 102 years. Some good, some bad, but all bringing us to the point we are at today. Bessemer is coming back, and I know from previous conversations that Mrs. Norton would be pleased with that. And I believe she died confident that the city she loved and knew so well would return to its former glory.

Alice, we will miss you. And the music you provided.

If you would like to honor Mrs. Norton you can do so by supporting the Alice Ragsdale Norton Music Scholarship at Birmingham Southern College.

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