Andrew J. Norton, 64, of Blue Bell, a leader at Main Line Health, died Sunday, Sept. 6, of complications from a rare autoimmune disease at Lankenau Medical Center.
Dr. Norton was the son of a physician and followed his father into the medical profession. He trained at Jefferson Medical College and then spent three decades as an internist and professor of medicine in Wisconsin before returning to the Philadelphia area.
He became senior vice president and chief medical officer for Main Line Health in 2012 and remained in that role until late July, when he stopped working due to health issues.
“He was down to earth, extremely bright, and often preferred the back stage,” said Jack Lynch, president and CEO of Main Line Health. “He was someone you could count on, not a yes man; he was looking out for the best interests of the community we serve.”
From the moment he arrived at Lankenau, Dr. Norton insisted that his colleagues and patients call him “Andy.” He relished the chance to teach the hospital’s medical students and residents.
“Andy made it clear that education was one of his passions and that he wished to share his knowledge and enthusiasm for the practice of medicine with young learners,” Main Line Health said in a statement.
As the health system’s leading physician, he pushed for safer, better, equitable, and patient-centered medicine in the system’s five hospitals and one drug-and-alcohol treatment center.
“A provocative thinker, he was always challenging the status quo and took great satisfaction in doing so,” Main Line Health said.
Dr. Norton helped countless staffers and patients at the medical center. “People saw him as a mentor and as someone who was easy to listen to,” said Barbara Wadsworth, senior vice president and chief nursing officer.
His proteges wanted to adopt his suggestions because they could see the benefit of his vision, said his wife, Deyonne Epperson.
Born in Buffalo, N.Y., to James F. Norton and Mary E. Falk, Dr. Norton grew up in nearby East Aurora. He graduated from Canisius High School and earned a bachelor’s degree from St. Louis University.
After earning his medical degree, he went to the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee, where he completed a residency in internal medicine and spent 30 years as a professor of clinical medicine. He also practiced internal medicine for 27 years.
From 1997 to 2011, he was senior vice president and chief medical officer for Froedtert Hospital, affiliated with the Medical College of Wisconsin.
In addition to being a teacher, he never stopped reading and going to conferences, and delighted in discussing medical journal articles with others.
When the coronavirus struck this year, Dr. Norton led the health system’s response. “He lived with the understanding that we were all going into COVID with a lot of uncertainty," Lynch said. "He was not rattled by the lack of answers and remained focused on the medical care for the community while ensuring that our employees and medical staff were safe.”
Dr. Norton was previously married to Rosina Norton. They had four children before divorcing. She survives.
Six years ago, he met Epperson through Wadsworth, their mutual friend. They married in May 2019. “Every time he saw her, his eyes lit up,” Wadsworth said.
They enjoyed traveling, golfing, biking, and walking together, always holding hands.
“He was an absolutely wonderful man," his wife said. "He loved me, his children, my children.… He didn’t think about himself; he thought about everyone else and how to make their lives better.”
Besides his wife, he is survived by daughters Aryn and Mackenzie; sons Caleb and Samuel; stepdaughter Stephanie Rakic; three grandsons; and many nieces and nephews.
Services at 11 a.m. Saturday, Sept. 26, will be private but livestreamed through a link on westlaurelhill.com.