RALEIGH — Stanley Norwalk, former Wake County commissioner and one of the founders of WakeUP Wake County, has died in Overland Park, Kan., where he and his wife moved to be near family as his health declined. He was 80.
Norwalk was elected to the board of county commissioners in 2008 to represent the 4th District and held the seat until health forced him to resign last May. His resignation was to the point as he told fellow commissioners it would be effective at the end of the meeting where he gave it.
Stan and Marcia Norwalk, who were married 60 years on the day he died, retired to Cary after he spent 37 years working for Union Carbide. By all accounts, Norwalk left a paycheck behind but brought his working energy with him.
“This is an example of a citizen who had every reason to stay retired and not get involved,” but he could not sit by when there were issues he felt he could help address, said Commissioner Ervin Portman, who was appointed to fill Norwalk’s seat when he resigned.
“He decided he had time on his hands and got involved,” Portman said. His obituary noted that he held to a motto, “tikkun olam” – Hebrew for “repairing the world.”
Yevonne Brannon, chairwoman of WakeUP Wake County, a civic group that favors controlled growth, recalled meeting Norwalk when she was running for a commissioner seat in 1996. “I like what you’re saying. I want to help you,” Norwalk told her at her front door. “I have some time to give.”
Norwalk, whom she described as having “a very sharp intellect, a grasp of details and great research skills” was an inspiration to her, she said. He was bright, tenacious and loyal.”
During his retirement, Norwalk served on the Wake County Planning Board and the Cary Economic Development Commission before being elected to the board. He also worked with the Service Corps of Retired Executives, a federal effort to have executives from large companies bring their knowledge to small-business owners.
Norwalk grew up in Brooklyn, N.Y., and earned a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering from Columbia University and a master’s in business administration from Rutgers University in New Jersey. In North Carolina, he went back to school to get a master’s in political science from North Carolina State University.
At Union Carbide, Norwalk worked with epoxy, resins and other forms of plastics, and he consulted on plastics, again after retiring.
He was, as Portman noted, “proof that life doesn’t end at retirement.”
Brannon recalled Norwalk as passionate about “what’s fair for all children in schools” and about social justice. She said that when someone would call her to ask if she could get “your friend Stan” to moderate his statements on an issue, her response was, “Attaboy, Stan!”
“He had a long life, a big view and a dedicated, tender heart,” Brannon said. She told his family in a note she wrote after hearing of his death, “I want him to keep whispering in my ear.”
Private services for Norwalk will be Sunday at Rosehill Cemetery in Kansas City, Mo. His family asked that rather than sending flowers, well-wishers make donations the National Kidney Foundation.