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Famed lensman Noel Norton passes on
Award-winning photographer Noel P Norton, who won international recognition for his role in recording the history and beauty of Trinidad and Tobago, died peacefully at 9.35 pm on Thursday at West Shore Medical. He was 84. Norton’s death came just five months after that of his wife Mary, who passed away last August. The couple had dedicated their lives to capturing the beauty and culture of our country and people through his lenses. Norton was born in Port-of-Spain on December 20, 1927, the second of five children for Winsley Theophilus Norton and Edith Waith. He married Mary Niles, his mentor and source of inspiration and encouragement, on July 19, 1953.
He was the creator of 50 years of records that cover a wide spectrum of subject matter, including nature, architecture, Trinidad Carnival and other local cultural and religious festivals, advertising, weddings and portraiture. Norton was the photographer often selected to accompany official visits of dignitaries to this country, including Pope John Paul II, Indian Prime Minister Indira Ghandi, Queen Elizabeth II and Prince Philip, the Duke of Edinburgh, Haile Selassie I, Emperor of Ethiopia, Ringo Starr and John Lennon of the Beatles. He was invited by renowned international photographer Norman Parkinson, who had a home in Tobago, to accompany him to the Far East, Hong Kong, Singapore and Tahiti.
At the time, Parkinson worked for Vogue, Peck of New York and Life Magazine. The alliance between the two continued for more than ten years and Norton accompanied Parkinson to Peru, Cape Canaveral and on many other assignments. As a result, of the Cape Canaveral trip, Norton was recognised officially by the Trinidad Guardian and the American Women’s Association, who hosted an exhibition of his trip. In 1972, Norton was awarded the silver medal at the Commonwealth Arts Festival Competition in Edmonton, Canada.
In 1991, he was awarded the Chaconia Gold Medal, this country’s second highest award, for his contribution to the preservation of the culture and history of Trinidad and Tobago. Norton and his wife owned Norton Studios. They also operated a photographic library at their home and in their later years, they were working on profiling and archiving all their work. The couple had been inseparable and following Mary’s death last August, Noel had to be taken to West Shore Medical. He never fully recovered from the loss of his beloved wife. Norton’s funeral will be held next week at a date and time to be fixed.