In Memory of Alfie Norville




By Carol C. Gregorio, PhD, co-director of the University of Arizona Sarver Heart Center

On February 10, 2015, the Sarver Heart Center lost a beloved member of the advisory board, Alfie Norville. Together with her husband, Allan, they were instrumental in the creation of the Alfie and Allan Norville Endowed Chair for Heart Disease in Women Research. This endowment was created to advance the understanding and treatment of heart and vascular disease in women. Their generous contribution led to the recruitment of an internationally recognized investigator, Henk Granzier, PhD, to the University of Arizona.

Besides Alfie’s active participation on the advisory board and as a member of the Sarver Heart Center Women’s Heart Health Education Committee, she also served as president of the Newman Center Sustaining Board and president of Saint Joseph’s Parish Altar & Rosary Society. Her philanthropic efforts were recognized by the Stephen M. Gootter Foundation as “Philanthropist of the Year” and by the Catholic Community Services as a “Diamond of the Community.” She also was awarded the “Outstanding Philanthropist of the Year, 2011” by the Association of Fundraising Professionals.

Alfie lived her life by “always making a difference.” She had a remarkable way of touching people’s lives with her kindness, true interest in what others were doing, as well as her generosity – at all levels. She is survived by Allan, her husband of 49 years; daughters, Patti and Cher; son, Mike; and 10 grandchildren and three great-grandchildren. Alfie and her family moved to Tucson more than 50 years ago for relief from her rheumatoid arthritis. Alfie became Tucson’s first licensed female stockbroker and, in 1960, appeared on the TV show “What’s My Line.” Alfie’s plethora of endeavors has had a huge impact on the Tucson economy. In particular, she is probably most known as the primary inspiration and founder of the Gem and Jewelry Exchange gem show in Tucson.

Austin Norville, Alfie’s grandson, prepared poems in memory of Alfie. A particular excerpt that touched my heart included: “Alfie was brighter than any diamond. Her healing smile could brighten even the darkest of desert days. Her impact can be felt across the country in the hearts of those who were blessed enough to have the opportunity to know her. As a mother, grandmother, wife and friend, Alfie made everyone feel as though she had a part in developing them. All will remember her as a woman who never gave up in her mission to make everyone around her feel like family. It is for this that she will be greatly missed in the hearts of many.”

Her son, Mike, also spoke at the memorial. Among the many wonderful things he spoke of was Alfie’s giving. How, “even when we didn’t have a lot of money, she always gave. She looked forward to being a philanthropist.” From the Greek language we get the word philanthropy, which translates as “love of humanity.” Given her lifetime of giving to so many, Alfie epitomized the persona of a philanthropist in its purest form.

A service was held to honor Alfie’s life. Attendees wore “Wildcat Red” (her favorite color); as part of the mass the priest informed Sean Miller (UA basketball coach) that Alfie would be looking down from heaven on the UA team and the UA Pep Band played as the attendees exited the church. Very memorable.

Alfie’s life was remarkable. She truly lived every day to the fullest. Her love of life and her love for the Wildcats were infectious. This woman touched my life as well as the lives of uncountable others. She will be missed.

In lieu of gifts, the family requests that donations be made to the UA Sarver Heart Center, in memory of Alfie Norville.

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