Contributed by Harry W. Flynn Jr, MD, FASRS and Patricia Norton
Edward W.D. Norton, MD, served as chief and chairman of ophthalmology for 36 years at the University of Miami. During his tenure, he founded the Bascom Palmer Eye Institute, which he named after the man who started the dream of a research, teaching, and clinical institute.
He was known for recruiting individuals who became leaders in the field, including Drs. Victor T. Curtin, J. Donald M. Gass, Robert Machemer, and John T. Flynn. Dr. Norton, always a humble man, never took credit for what he had built, always recognizing that it was the people (from cleaning crew to operating room staff) who built the Institute.
He was a father figure to both faculty and house staff. Dr. Norton, fondly referred to as the Chief, was loved by his colleagues, staff, and patients.
Edward Norton was a well-recognized retina specialist and surgeon who received local and worldwide referrals. His leadership positions included: chairman, American Board of Ophthalmology; president, American Academy of Ophthalmology; president, American Ophthalmological Society; editorial board member, American Journal of Ophthalmology, and many others.
His honors include the Lang Medal from the American Academy of Medicine, the Howe Medal from the American Ophthalmological Society, the Mildred Weisenfeld Award from the Association for Research in Vision and Ophthalmology, and the Duke Elder International Medal from the International Council of Ophthalmology.
Dan Jones, MD, credits the “Norton Principles” as the keys to Dr. Norton’s success. One of these principles was his role as caretaker of the faculty: “Like a gardener, I pick the plants, cultivate the flowers, and then watch the flowers bloom,” Dr. Norton said.