Valley Roadrunner
David Ross, Editor


Longtime Palomar Mountain weekender Jack Norvall was born December 27, 1920 in Des Moines, Iowa; in his own words: "I was a trouble-maker from Day 1." He died Oct. 4, 2006, in Escondido.

Mr. Norvall came to California when he was two years old and was raised in Glendale.  He moved to San Diego in 1938, in his senior year of high school, and graduated in 1939 from San Diego High.  As a teen he helped his father sell cash registers in the Southern California backcountry.

He joined the Navy in 1939 and rose to Chief Petty Officer, the youngest "Chief" in the Navy at the time. He served 52 months in the North Atlantic, South Pacific, Philippines, and occupied Okinawa, aboard two equipment repair ships, the USS Jason and USS Melville.

His first marriage was in 1940. His three children were born in 1942 (John Jr., known as Jackie), 1948 (Gaye [now Gaye Townsend]), and 1952 (Esther, known as Teddy).

He married Annie on June 15, 1957. They went to Turkey in 1960 for a 6-week engineering assignment and stayed for six years. Their first night in Turkey the straw-mattress bed broke through, and in the first night in their second Turkish house, on the Black Sea beach, a rain storm soaked the entire inside. But they stayed and came to enjoy Turkey and the Turkish people.

They returned to the U.S. in 1966 and bought "Tobin Resort," a restaurant, resort cabins, and bar on the Feather River
It turned out to be endless work, and Annie proclaimed: "Either the resort or me, take your pick."  They left the resort business after little more than a year and ended up moving to Escondido.

Mr. Norvall began a 26-year career with Cubic Corporation, who sent him all over on their projects, including the BART fare-collection systems and work in New Orleans.

In 1969 Jack and Annie bought a small house on Ross Lane in Escondido and began expanding it with adobe bricks and giant wooden beams salvaged from the Golden Door Resort Spa.

After Mr. Norvall retired from Cubic in 1992, he started selling real estate. He went up to Palomar Mountain every weekend, camping and learning everything he could about Palomar. One day he bought a cabin.  He became involved with community affairs and the Palomar Mountain Planning Organization (PMPO). He joined the fight against the county government over a survey that had taken away many buildable lots on the mountain. In 1996 he was elected to the board of the PMPO. He led the PMPO effort to achieve a just settlement of the dispute. In the field he found evidence of the original 19th century survey monuments and by his research at Sacramento and in the San Diego County microfilm vaults he found long-forgotten surveys and boundary descriptions.

After close to 40 years vacationing in travel trailers, coaches, and motor homes, Annie decided she wanted to enjoy an ocean cruise. But, Jack would NOT go on a cruise: "You're not getting me on one of those ships-I saw enough ships in the navy."

It took a couple of years and cruises, but Jack gave it a try and after one cruise to Europe, you couldn't stop him. They always made sure they had a suite with their own fridge and veranda, and Jack figured smuggled his beloved Wild Turkey aboard camouflaged in big wine bottles. In 12 years of cruising, Jack had 504 days aboard ship on 41 cruises, to Annie's 518 days and 43.

He will be greatly missed by Annie, his many friends, his children, grand-children, great-grandchildren, and two great-great-grandchildren.