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Norman Gover '63

Norman Gover made his transition from this life peacefully at sunset on October 3, 2014. A writer who excelled in the short story genre, he most recently published The Pulaski Chronicles, a collection of forty stories set in the Appalachian foothills of Kentucky. His articles have been published in The Nation, Black Mountain Press, Marin Review, Liaison, and National Business Employment Weekly. A master letter writer, his friends and family cherished his wry humor, his knowledge of the classics, his socio-economic insights, and above all, the connections he created with each correspondent. Norman was a reader and music lover of deep and wide ranging interests: the poetry of Wallace Stevens and Laurence Snydal; the diverse work of Dante, Lagerkvist, Simenon, and Paretsky, or Marx, Elaine Pagels and the Gnostic Gospels. He was a scholar of socio-economic structures, recently favoring the work of David Harvey and Sheldon S. Wolin, and the re-incorporation and popularization of their ideas by Thom Hartmann. He could discuss Bach, Beethoven, and Puccini as well as the repertoires of Brubeck, Coltrane, Paul Robeson, Ralph Stanley, Pete Seeger, and Kate Wolf. His Grove Dictionary of Music and Musicians was one of his most cherished possessions. An Eagle Scout, he served as a troop leader before leaving his native Kentucky at the age of 18 to attend Antioch College and begin his college co-op jobs in Chicago. He guided visitors through the Museum of Science and Industry, and was a professional puppeteer at the Kungsholm Miniature Grand Opera Theatre. His studies at the University of Chicago included American literature and Greek history. Norman worked in the book business for over 40 years, in San Jose, Cincinnati, and San Francisco, as a manager of bookstores, teamster warehouseman, wholesale buyer of books, and interested observer of the history of the industry. His bookstores became magnets for those who favored peace over militarism along with great literature. After attending San Jose State University, Norman earned his Bachelor of Arts degree in 1991 from World College West, majoring in Values and Culture, with a year of world study in the Canary Islands. His senior thesis, “The Printed Page: from Vespasiano da Bisticca to Scribner,” examines the economic concentration in publishing from the time of Gutenberg to Charles Scribner's Sons. He made his home in Marin County for 45 years, the last 40 with his wife in San Anselmo. He actively worked for renewable energy and the successful ban of the transportation of nuclear waste through the county. He was an advocate for social justice through his words and actions. He would urge us to act for peace and the planet in any way we can. In collaboration with community members, he worked for over eight years to create the Seeds of Peace mural in Fairfax and wrote Seeds of Peace: A Community Mural - Part Offering, Part Hope. It provides a narrative of the images depicted in the mural, the history of the project, and an overview of murals in California and America. In the 1990s, Norman was the literature manager for the American Heart Association in San Francisco, and served the Jewish Community Center of Marin as the manager of Such A Deal, a self-supporting thrift store which provided reasonably priced goods and good deeds for its many customers in San Rafael. From 2002, Norman was principally occupied with writing the stories that make up The Pulaski Chronicles, as well as completing two novels and additional short stories. Diagnosed with an indolent form of multiple myeloma in 2002, he outlived the initial prognosis by five years. His family extends gratitude to his physicians and nurses, and to the laboratory technicians and pharmacy workers at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Center in San Rafael; to the entire Hospice by the Bay Team, including Diane, Carl, and especially Michelle, who coordinated care for him during his last two months; and to Kieran, for great kindness as a caregiver during Norman's last two weeks of life. The family also thanks the committed friends who rallied around with visits, emails, daily post cards, and flowers. Norman will be remembered as a beautifully complex man, generous of mind and spirit. He will be celebrated for his quiet warmth and deep kindness, his wry wit, and his wisdom by his wife, Judith O'Rourke; step-daughters Wendy and Erin; son-in-law Michael; grandchildren Brandon, Nicole, and Sam; brother Thomas; sister-in-law Mary; niece Helen; nephew Paul; and by his cherished friends. A celebration of this life well lived will be held on October 25, at 2:00 PM in San Rafael. For location and directions, contact In lieu of flowers, contributions to honor him may be made to; to the Fairfax Branch of the Marin County Free Library; to; or to