The Collegian
Saturday, February 24, 2024

Former assistant police chief Norton loses battle with cancer

Howard "Buddy" Norton Jr., former assistant chief of police at the University of Richmond, died Tuesday after his battle with brain cancer.

Norton served the university from 1983 until he resigned at the beginning of this summer, said David McCoy, campus police chief.

"He really showed that he was fighting it [cancer] and fighting it hard," said Joseph Boehman, dean of Richmond College. "He was a guy with a lot of heart, and courage as big as the outdoors. His ability to keep coming to work and putting on an optimistic face was incredible. Really inspirational, actually."

Norton's career in the police force began at the Henrico County Police Department, McCoy said. After he joined the university as an officer, he climbed the ranks to become a captain in 2001, and then served as the interim police chief from 2010 to 2011. McCoy promoted Norton to assistant chief of police in 2011, he said.

"His interactions with students were his strongest suit," McCoy said. "I've got his personnel file just packed with thank you letters. He always had a positive demeanor whenever he engaged with student organizations. It's a big loss for the university. He was a great friend."

Senior Taylor Michals, Westhampton College Government Association president, worked with Norton to organize Greek events and discuss safety issues at student government meetings, she said.

"Chief Norton understood how different organizations here on campus operated and was always available for the students," Michals said."Like me, he grew up in New Orleans and was childhood friends with my uncle. He made sure to let me know that he was here for anything that I could possibly need. He made a great impact on both our campus and the outside community. He will be truly missed."

Senior Evan Harris, Richmond College Student Government Association president, said: "Buddy was a legend, someone whose smile could instantly light up the room. I only hope I can find something I love as much has he did. He truly lived a full and dedicated life."

Boehman had the opportunity to work closely with Norton and observe his interactions with students when Norton served as interim police chief, he said.

During this time, Norton organized a safety walk with student government representatives to make sure that they thought the campus grounds were well lit at night, Boehman said.

"It was incredible for the student leaders who participated because they saw that here's a guy who took the extra step to do something that we haven't done in the past," Boehman said. "Right from day one, he was doing things to make sure that the students knew that the police were their allies."

Norton played a critical role in the opening of E. Claiborne Robins stadium and in implementing public safety days and vehicle checks that assisted students, McCoy said. He also helped to maintain the accreditation of the University Police Department since 1990, McCoy said.

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"He was a good person, and he treated people well," McCoy said. "If you have that, you've done well in life, regardless of your profession."

Norton's family will receive friends from 2 to 4 p.m. and 6 to 8 p.m. on Sept. 21 at Bliley's Funeral Home at 8510 Staples Mill Road, according to an email sent to the university community by President Edward Ayers. A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. on Sept. 22 in the Cannon Memorial Chapel on campus, where Norton requested that everyone wear "Spider red." A reception will follow at 2 p.m. in the Jepson Alumni Center, Ayers wrote.

The Richmond flag will fly at half-staff from Sept. 21 to Sept. 23 in honor of Norton, according to the email.

Norton's family was unable to be reached to comment.

Contact staff writer Erin Moyer at

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