Obituary for Mary Williams-Norton (1946-2022)

Mary Williams-Norton passed away at 76 years of age after battling metastatic breast cancer at Meriter Hospital in Madison, WI on Tuesday, September 27, 2022.

Mary served as a professor and department chair in the Ripon College Physics Department for 37 years, retiring in 2012. She not only taught physics and astronomy; she was a role model, emphasizing the contribution of women in science. She worked closely with the Ripon College Education Department to inspire elementary education students to love science teaching. She also worked with the Wisconsin Elementary and Middle Level Science Teachers organization to promote science education in public schools. Outside of the college classroom, Mary led Girl Scout troops in Poynette, WI and enthusiastically supported the Poynette School District.

Mary believed strongly in promoting and celebrating the Welsh language and culture through her passionate participation in many Welsh heritage organizations and events. She was active in the Welsh Gymanfa Ganu Association of Wisconsin including the Eisteddfod competition. She developed her Welsh language skills at Cwrs Cymraeg. She served as the vice-President, treasurer, and secretary for the Cambrian Heritage Society of Madison, WI. She named her home Fferm Bryn Cedrwydd.

Mary was an avid knitter, quilter, and seamstress. Many babies have been warmed by her sweaters, and her family is certain that her cloth bags have reached every corner of the planet. Mary also loved cats, antiques, Pocket Dragons, and murder mysteries.

Mary was survived by her husband, Gregory A. Norton; her brother, Alan Williams (Sandra); her daughters, Jeanne Norton (David Orsborn) and Laura Dunday (Neil); her grandchildren, Zora Orsborn and Max and Stella Dunday; and many nieces, nephews, and friends. Mary was preceded in death by her parents, David H. Williams and Gertrude Williams (née Jones), and her father- and mother-in-law, Richard S. and Dorothy Norton.

Memorial services will be held at Peniel Welsh Chapel (W9644 Zoar Rd, Pickett, WI 54964) at 2 p.m. on Saturday, October 29. 

In lieu of gifts or flowers, her family requests charitable donations be made in her name to the Carbone Cancer Center (donate online at, or by mail at UW Carbone Cancer Center; 600 Highland Ave., K4/658; Madison, WI 53792-6164). Memorial service plans are pending.

Pflanz Mantey Mendrala Funeral Home in Poynette is assisting the family.