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Judge Norman S. Fenton dies

Tucson has lost a devoted citizen and civil servant in the passing of retired Superior Court Judge Norman S. Fenton on January 5,2022, at the age of 98.

Fenton was born in Brooklyn, New York and attended Syracuse University where he received his law degree and met his future wife, Marjorie. In 1957 they moved to Tucson, and Fenton began a long and illustrious career in law and dedication to the Tucson community he grew to love.

Among his many contributions, most noted are those in areas near and dear to his heart. While serving as presiding judge of the Pima County Conciliation Court from 1970 to 1985, he spearheaded the development of the Conciliation and Mediation Program for Families in Dispute. In 1985 he became the first president of the non-profit Tucson Historical Preservation Foundation. After retiring from 25 years as an Arizona Superior Court judge, in 1992 he founded “Courts Are Us,” a youth employment program aimed at educating high school students about the legal system and its inherent role in our democracy. It is still going strong after 28 years. He was instrumental in helping form Tucson’s first Boys Club, later becoming the Boys and Girls Clubs of Tucson, and served as president of the board of directors at the time the Steve Daru branch building was dedicated in 1963. He remained a longtime supporter of this organization.

Fenton made the New York City All-City high school football team, loved to ride horses, and was a rock star at the antique fairs and swap meets where he enjoyed finding hidden treasures which he often gifted to family, friends, and organizations. He officiated scores of marriage ceremonies, most recently on December 4, 2020, when at age 96 he presided over the marriage of his youngest grandson!

He was generous beyond measure, kind of heart, dedicated to justice and the rule of law, and had a wonderfully playful sense of humor. His favorite musical was Man of La Mancha and his family loved his take on the song, “To Dream the Impossible Dream” which was “There are no impossible dreams!”

Judge Fenton is survived by his wife of 74 years, Marjorie Daru Fenton and their three children, Steven (Randy) Fenton, Nancy (Ron) Yaeli, and Jonathan (April) Fenton. He was a devoted grandfather to his treasured grandchildren, Zachary, Courtney, and Tyler (Emily) Fenton, Michael (Katie) and David (Angela) Yaeli, and Brandi, Garrett and Cassidy Fenton, and great grandchildren, Landon and Marshall Yaeli.

A Celebration of Life will be held in the future. Donations in his honor can be made to Boys & Girls Clubs of Tucson, Steve Daru Branch, the Jewish Community Foundation for the benefit of the Jewish Community Relations Council, or the Norman S. Fenton Endowment at the University of Arizona James E. Rogers College of Law.