Norton Lawrence Berman, aged 87, passed away peacefully on Sunday, May 27, 2018 in New Orleans, LA.
Norton was born March 3, 1931 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania to Jack Berman and Rose Berman nee Schreiber. In addition to his parents, Norton was preceded in death by his brother Alan Berman (Joyce) and daughter Marsha Berman. He is survived by his sons Evan Berman (Dira), Eric Berman (Diana), daughter Lauren Berman and grandchildren Gillian Berman, Daniella Berman, Naomi and Melanie Berman.He received his Bachelor’s degree and Juris Doctorate from the University of Pittsburgh. While practicing law, he earned a Master’s Degree in Urban and Regional Planning from the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs at the University of Pittsburgh. Leaving the practice of law for work in economic development in the late 1960’s, his career took him from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in Washington D.C. to the Peace Corps in Liberia and Botswana, and then to the Michigan Department of Commerce. In 1978, he moved to Papua New Guinea to become trade secretary for the newly independent government, then back to Michigan in 1982 as the State’s director of economic development. Following stints in Rhode Island and New Jersey in similar positions, Norton returned to Michigan in 1986, where he founded his economic development consulting firm, Economic Development Services (EDS).He directed and designed Louisiana’s economic development program, New Directions, for Gov. Roemer and then facilitated (1990-1994) Blueprint for Economic Revival for the City of New Orleans during Mayor Sidney Barthelemy’s administration. His expertise in community-based economic development strategic planning, foreign investment and public-private partnerships was sought by cities as well as by regional, state and national governments.Norton was hired by USAID to work in the Czech Republic and later established Berman Group which facilitated economic development projects in Poland, Slovakia, Serbia, Romania and Ukraine. After 10-plus years working and traveling in the region with companion, Dottie Stephenson, she and Norton returned stateside, settling in New Orleans where he continued to work in development, predominately with non-profit organizations including Audubon Institute, Contemporary Arts Center, Musical Arts of New Orleans (MASNO), New Orleans Friends of Music, Jewish Children’s Regional Services, and most recently for St. Joseph’s Seminary College. He enjoyed fine dining in New Orleans and was eager to visit its newest eateries whether for breakfast, lunch or dinner. Norton frequented the city’s museums and galleries to explore their latest exhibitions. One of his favorite places in New Orleans was the sculpture garden at the New Orleans Museum of Art which was a “must see” for all of his out-of-town guests. He remained an avid Steelers fan to the end, watching a game wherever he was, regardless of continent or hour. In 1996, he, Dottie and Lauren found themselves in an all-night sports bar in Prague where the Super Bowl was being broadcasted in Czech.Norton had a life-long appreciation for both classical music and contemporary art. He served as executive director of the American Craft Council in New York, President of the Board of Pewabic Pottery in Detroit, Michigan, and was an avid supporter of the Contemporary Arts Center, New Orleans Friends of Music, and the Musical Arts Society of New Orleans. Later in life, Norton would ask himself, “Have I made a difference – to the people I have touched, the places I have worked? Have I been an agent of change – for the better?”
Graveside Services were held for Norton on Friday, June 1 at the B’Nai Israel Cemetery in Pittsburgh. Gifts in memoriam may be made to New Orleans Friends of Music at 5500 Prytania St, New Orleans, LA 70115 or at friendsofmusic.org. A ceremony of Norton’s life will be held in New Orleans at a later date.