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Franklin Norvish

WATERVILLE -- Franklin Norvish, 98, longtime professor of English at Northeastern University, died Sunday, Jan. 3, 2010, at Thayer Campus, MaineGeneral Medical Center.

He was born Oct. 25, 1911, in Brockton, Mass., the son of Annie and Felix Norvish. He graduated from Brockton High School in 1930; he received a bachelor's degree from Colby College in 1934 and a master's degree from Yale University in 1936. That same year, he started a 40-year career in teaching and administration at Northeastern University in Boston, attaining the rank of full professor.

He served as director of the freshman English program and as chairman of the University College English department. With Professor William Wade, he published two textbooks. He was consultant to many publishers of freshman English texts. He served as adviser to varsity and freshman debating teams and conducted the Johnson Public Speaking Contests in Jordan Hall. He served as president of the New England section of the College English Association and was a member of Modern Language Association, English Lunch Club and Northeastern 25-year Retirees. He retired in 1976.

From 1943 to 1945, Norvish served in the European Theatre of Operations as special agent in the Counter Intelligence Corps, attached to the VII Corps, commanded by Gen. "Lightning Joe" Collins. His unit made it to Normandy Utah Beach on D-Day and D+1. He was awarded the Bronze Star.

He received orders to join Gen. Charles de Gaulle's entourage for the liberation of Paris. In the two weeks that followed, Norvish, assisted by free French units, apprehended more than 40 collaborators, saboteurs, defectors and infiltrators. Of the many exploits in which he was involved, he was most proud of being instrumental in locating and shipping off to London six German nuclear scientists and their notes. He was fluent in several languages.

Norvish was a past president of the Military Intelligence Association of New England and vice president of the National Counter Intelligence Association, serving on its board of directors.

He was a popular speaker, and some of his experiences have been recounted in newspapers and on television.

The Norvish family lived in Needham, Mass., for more than 50 years, spending summers on their Palermo farm and, later, at their house on China Lake. Frank was an avid golfer and enjoyed salt-water fishing. His family was active in Carter Memorial United Methodist Church in Needham.

Norvish was a 32nd-degree Mason in Paul Revere Lodge A.F. and A.M. of Brockton. He was a Noble in the Aleppo Shrine and a member of the American Legion.

Frank served more than 60 years as class agent for Colby College, calling classmates to help raise money for the Colby Fund. He received a Colby Brick Award in 1980. At his 75th Colby class reunion weekend in June 2009, he was given the Ernest C. Marriner Distinguished Service Award.

He was predeceased in 1995 by his wife, Edna Edison Norvish; in 1967, by his brother, Stephen F. Norvish; and in 1999, by his sister, Anne Lucas.

He is survived by his son and daughter-in-law, Philip A. Norvish and Amy Calder, of Waterville; his cousin, Lillian Stetson, of Warwick, R.I.; sisters-in-law Doris Cook, of Needham, Barbara Finigan, of Cambridge, Mass., Bertha Edison, of Latham, N.Y., and Louise Norvish, of Easton, Mass.; and many nieces and nephews. He also leaves behind his daughter-in-law's parents, Edwin and Frances Calder, of Skowhegan, and their family.

A memorial service will take place 1 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 9, at Carter Memorial United Methodist Church, 800 Highland Ave., Needham. A private burial will take place at the family plot in Melrose Cemetery, Brockton.

At Frank's request, a gathering will be held at the Norvish home in Waterville at a later date for the convenience of his Maine family and friends.

The Norvish family wishes to thank Dr. Richard Dubocq and the staff at Oak Grove Center, Waterville, for their extraordinary care of Frank. We also want to thank Dr. Andrew Dionne and the nurses at Thayer for their tender care during Frank's final hours.

Donations may be made to Carter Memorial United Methodist Church, of Needham; South China Community Church, Jones Road, South China; or the charity of one's choice.

Arrangements are under the direction of Dan & Scott's Cremation & Funeral Service, 445 Waterville Road, Skowhegan. 7295010

Published in Kennebec Journal on Jan. 5, 2010
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