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Gail P. (Hanagan) Norton Send a condolence note
Owned Gail’s Gentle Persuasion in Laconia

BELMONT - Gail P. (Hanagan) Norton, 79, of 11 Oak Drive passed away suddenly at her home on Monday, February 25, 2008.

Mrs. Norton was born in York, Maine, on July 22, 1928, the daughter of Maurice B. and Ruth E. (Sweeney) Hanagan.  Mrs. Norton had a love of the ocean. “I was born in York Harbor”, she once said, “and I think I am part fish.” At two years of age, she moved with her parents and sister to Echo Hill Farm on Clement Road in Rollinsford, NH.  She attended the “Pear Yard”, a one room school house for two years before a new school, Rollinsford Grade School, was built and students transferred there.  She graduated from Dover High School in 1946.  Gail was active in 4-H and activities at Dover High School.  She enjoyed music and sang in the chorus.  A talented seamstress, she had a special skill for matching fabrics and colors.

Because of her seamstress skills, she was hired on the spot in 1974 to work in the men’s department at O’Shea’s Department Store in downtown Laconia. She worked various departments, including the children’s department and the women’s dress department. It was while manning the annual sidewalk sale that Mrs. Norton was asked by Tom O’Shea if she would take over the undergarment section, which she worked until her retirement in 1989.

While at O’Shea’s, Mrs. Norton had dealt with the Jodee Company, which makes a special line of bras and prosthetics for women who have undergone mastectomies. In 1985, one of her customers wrote a wonderful letter to the Jodee Company about how well she was treated by Mrs. Norton following her mastectomy. This letter leads to Mrs. Norton being awarded The Jodee National Fitter of the Year Award in December 1985. Following her retirement from O’Shea’s, the Jodee Company approached Mrs. Norton, wanting her to represent their company, working out of her home. She decided to open her own store.

Mrs. Norton opened Gail’s Gentle Persuasions, a woman’s lingerie shop, in downtown Laconia in 1991 with her friend, Joanne Hamilton. Mrs. Norton provided a personal touch to the sale of women’s undergarments and clothing, which quickly attracted customers. One of her main business focuses at Gail’s Gentle Persuasions was with the fitting of bras and prosthetics for women who had undergone mastectomies.

Mrs. Norton also earned notoriety due to her work with the Cancer Society, participating in many seminars since 1977. Her reputation and “gentle” nature in working with breast cancer patients was well known and she frequently consulted with area physicians to assist them with their pre- and post-operation patients. 

In 1999-2000, the Lakes Region Management Club awarded Mrs. Norton with Top Manager of the Year. She was also an active member of the Laconia chapter of Altrusa, an international association of business executives and professionals who volunteer their energies and expertise in projects dedicated to community betterment. Gail was married to William I. Norton on June 29, 1947 at Echo Hill Farm in Rollinsford, NH. They were married for over 60 years. Mr. Norton passed away on October 20, 2007.

Survivors include; a son, William I. Norton, Jr. and his wife, Elaine, of Sellersburg, Ind.; a daughter, Heidi Norton Arnold and her husband, Bob, of Bow; six grandchildren, Ben Rice and his wife, Christine, of Concord, Jeremy Rice and his wife, Sarah, of Boulder, CO., Jenifer Norton of Florida, Zack Norton and Macy Norton of Sellersburg, Ind., and Shane Norton of Georgia; two great-grandchildren, Brady Rice and Vanessa Rice of Concord; a sister, Lydia Reardon of Piermont, NH; and many nephews and nieces.

In addition to her husband and parents, Mrs. Norton was predeceased by a son, Eric P. Norton, in 1974.

Calling hours will not be held.

Funeral services will be held Saturday March 8, 2008 at 2 p.m. in the Carriage House of Wilkinson-Beane Funeral Home, 164 Pleasant St., Laconia.

Spring burial will be in Pine Grove Cemetery, Gilford.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the American Cancer Society  Gail Singer Memorial Building 360 State Rte 101 Suite 501 Bedford, NH 03110-5032 in memory of Gail Norton.

The Wilkinson-Beane Funeral Home & Cremation Services 164 Pleasant Street Laconia, NH is in charge of the arrangements.


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