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Norris H. Hoyt

Norwich, Vt. — Norris “Norrie” Hoyt died peacefully on Sunday, Aug. 4, 2013, at his home in Norwich.

Norrie was born in Chicago and grew up in Arlington, Mass. He attended Belmont Hill School and Amherst College. After graduating from Amherst in 1957, Norrie spent a year living on a kibbutz in Urim, Israel. It was an experience that affected him deeply and which he spoke of often. Upon returning to the United States, Norrie attended Harvard Law School and received his J.D. in 1961. He later received a Master’s degree in Taxation from Boston University. Norrie practiced maritime law in St. Croix, U.S. Virgin Islands, where he once arrested a boat by nailing a warrant to the mast. He also worked as an attorney for the National Science Foundation in Washington D.C.

In 1969, Norrie moved to Vermont to work as Deputy Commissioner in the Department of Taxes. Norrie always said that after moving to Vermont he finally felt at home. In 1971, Norrie moved to Norwich and opened the first law firm in town since Daniel Buck in 1791. Norrie took a job as legal counsel to Governor Tom Salmon and wrote Vermont’s landmark Land Gains Tax Act and worked tirelessly to see it enacted by the Legislature. In 1974, Norrie married Kathleen Clark in the Governor’s Office in the Vermont State House. They are the only couple ever to have been married in the State House. In 1974, Norrie was elected to the first of five terms in the Vermont State House, representing Norwich and Strafford. During his career, Norrie was responsible for crafting some of the most enduring and progressive tax programs in Vermont, including the Property Tax Rebate, the Current Use program, the Renters Rebate Program, and many others. Norrie became Commissioner of Taxes in 1985 and later served as Commissioner of Liquor Control until retiring from public life in 1998. Norrie had a deep love of public service and the State of Vermont. He received the first American Civil Liberties Union award in Vermont for his efforts to defeat the restoration of the death penalty in the state.

Norrie was pre-deceased by his father, Norris Hoyt and his mother, Jean Archibald Hoyt. He is survived by his wife of 39 years, Kathy Hoyt of Norwich, his son Michael and his wife Natalie of Hanover, and his son Christopher and his wife Grace of West Haven, Vt. He is also survived by his cat, Belle.

Norrie had a love of life and thirst for knowledge that he followed wherever it led. He did not care for convention or social standing but admired and respected people for who they were and not for any status or title they held. He was famous for his stories and humorous quips and puns. He would recite poetry from memory, particularly the works of Robert Frost and Wallace Stevens. He loved cats and took an interest in everything that life had to offer. He was a wonderful listener, and he treated everyone with respect.

A celebration of his life will be held at his home in Norwich on Sept. 14.

In lieu of flowers, donations may be made to the Upper Valley Humane Society or the Visiting Nurse Association and Hospice of Vt. and N.H.