Sunday, June 05, 2011

Life of Will Norton celebrated

When it comes to Will Norton, Rev. Aaron Brown told hundreds who gathered at Christ's Church in Oronogo this afternoon, "Death doesn't get the last word."

And for those who came to mourn for the Joplin High School graduate who lost his life two weeks ago in the tornado that devastated Joplin, the tears were mixed with smiles and often with heartfelt laughter.

As they were seated, his friends saw a large screen montage of photos of Will Norton. Photographers never had to ask him to smile; the smile was a permanent fixture on the teenager's face.

The highlights of the service, which was termed "a celebration" of the life of Will Norton, were provided by Will himself, in one of his YouTube videos chosen by his parents and in a collection of snippets from his "Willdabeast" You Tube channel, which had thousands of followers around the globe.

Testimonials to the young man were provided by Rev. Brown, Joplin High School Principal Kerry Sachetta, and business teacher Kristy McGowen.

"Will, in every way, was the type of student and young man of whom we can all be proud," Sachetta said. After Will transferred to JHS, the principal said, he immediately fit in.

"His personality lit up a room."

Though Will became a YouTube sensation starring in his videos, when the high school Constitution Team represented Joplin in the national competition in Washington, D. C. earlier this year, Will turned the camera on his fellow team members, not on himself, Sachetta noted "He chronicled their experience."

When a national accreditation team visited JHS this year, one of the highlights of their visit was watching a video compiled by Will Norton. "It was the last video we have from that building," Sachetta said.

When Will graduated, just a short time before the tornado, Sachetta said, "I was able to shake Will's hand for the last time." The principal presented Will's parents with their son's diploma.

Mrs. McGowen related stories of how Will made a special effort to see to it that everyone shared in the good times. "He always wanted you to have your moment," she said.

"Boy, did he ever make a big impact," she "Celebrate your life like Will Norton did."

Rev. Brown concluded the ceremony by saying, "Will would not wanted to be remembered as a young man killed in the Joplin tornado. He would want to be remembered for how he lived.

"Will knew how to enjoy life, didn't he?"

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