To say that Kanab resident Emma Norton has been important to the Kane County Hospital Thrift Store would be an understatement. She has worked there for years, including being president for the past 12!

“She is a marvelous, tremendous person,” said friend and Thrift Store volunteer Loretta Crosby, of Norton’s upcoming retirement and move to California. “I don’t know how we will manage without her!”

For over 20 years volunteer Norton’s name has been synonymous with the Kane County Hospital and the Thrift Store. (The latter providing additional and often times ‘extra’ money for the hospital, outside of its operating budget.)

The Hospital Thrift Store, located at 100 East and Center St. in Kanab, sells reasonably priced, gently used items, including everything from furniture to bikes, books to home decor, and did I mention clothes? They have racks and racks of attractively displayed shoes and clothing for men, women and children.

And the revenue the devoted Thrift Store volunteers raise through their efforts for the Kane County Hospital isn’t chump change. They’ve already raised nearly $160,000 this year alone.

“If they stay on track for this year by the end of December, they anticipate hitting the $2,000,000 in contributions mark,” said Kane County Hospital’s Human Resource Director Laurali Noteman. “Pretty neat, huh?”

But how did Texas born and California-raised Norton end up as a long-time Kanab resident and volunteer extraordinaire for the Kane County Hospital?

She and husband Cedric, parents of five, had both retired from Hughes Corporation in California. They loved southern Utah and moved here 26 years ago after finishing their careers.

Almost immediately, Norton started her real work, or what I meant to say – volunteer work! “The first thing I did was sign up to be a volunteer,” said Norton.

Her volunteer endeavors have included the Kanab Senior Center, Kane County Hospital (where she assisted in clerical), and of course, the Kane County Hospital Thrift Store. By everyone’s account, Norton has been an absolutely invaluable, dependable workhorse on behalf of the entities she volunteered! In recognition one year, she was honored by the State of Utah as Southern Utah Volunteer of the Year.

“I’m a Christian and believe that God directs me in everything,” said Norton, explaining she believes her volunteer work is inspired and what she is supposed to be doing. “So they can see God through me and my actions.”

When asked under her leadership what her vision has been for the Thrift Store, Norton said it was to make it an attractive place to shop. “I wanted it to be like a department store for those seeking a bargain, or less fortunate. I wanted it to be one of the best stores around.”

But early 2018 started out rough for 82-year-old Norton. Her beloved husband Cedric passed away, followed by a bad car accident when she was traveling to St. George for some Thrift Store supplies, and then her long time dog passed away. It had become time to move on.

“While Cedric and I always said we were going to move to St. George eventually, once he passed, I decided to go live near family,” said Norton.

With all her children and their families in California, she will have plenty of people to talk to and things to do, once she buys a place there! She has put her own home up for sale and is beginning the enormous job of packing up a place she has called home for over 25 years.

But Norton is finding saying goodbye and leaving more difficult than she imagined. “All the friends here have become family. I love them all. I love all the people I’ve worked with. I’m really going to hate to leave!”

“Emma has been a remarkable leader. She is well respected by the volunteers and Thrift Store managers, which is admirable,” said Noteman, who has worked with Norton for years. “But what is astounding is she is loved by them and myself as well. She will be missed.”