Janet A. Norton, 91, died on February 28, 2020 from natural causes, at her home on Sweetened Water Farm, surrounded by her family.

Born Janet Leigh Avery in Oak Bluffs on June 20, 1928 to parents C. Stuart Avery and Marion (Bond) Avery. Her parents owned Avery’s store (now Sundog) on Main street in Edgartown, where her father also ran his real estate business, Avery & Company, for many years. Her mother operated the retail end of the store while her father was away in the service.

Jan grew up in Edgartown, graduated from Edgartown High School and did postgraduate studies at Walnut Hill School in Natick. She went on to complete her higher education at Wheelock College in Boston, where she graduated with a bachelor's in education. She was a substitute teacher when her children were young.

Some of her fondest memories were of summers at Aloha Camp in Fairlee, Vt., and Teela-Wooket in Roxbury, Vt., where, as a teenager, she honed her skills in horseback riding and later became a skilled equestrian in both Western and English styles. She owned several horses over the years in Connecticut and on Martha’s Vineyard.

She married Floyd C. Norton of Edgartown and just one month ago they celebrated their 69th anniversary. They raised their family in Connecticut before moving back to the Vineyard in the late 1970s.

Jan never passed up the chance to watch a Nelson Eddy and Jeanette MacDonald movie. She also loved opera music, Michael Crawford, Mel Tormé, and in later years she became a country music fan with her favorites being Johnny Cash and Rodney Crowell. A couple of her most memorable experiences were meeting Mr. Tormé at a concert in Boston and Mr. Crowell on the Vineyard.

A talented artist and craftswoman, she excelled at whatever she delved into, be it painting, crewel embroidery, pottery, jewelry making or egg crafting, to name just a few. As an artist, her favorite medium was watercolor and she created beautiful floral paintings and folk art scenes of many Vineyard towns. She had several scenes laminated and made into placemats, popular in the island shops. Later in life, she painted portraits of friend’s pets that had passed away. It gave her great joy to create a lasting legacy for those animals and friends.

Jan was an animal lover. In Connecticut, she was affectionately nicknamed “Cuckoo the Bird Woman”. Neighbors brought her injured birds and other creatures for TLC and rehabilitation, as she never turned down an animal in need. Her love of animals was passionate. There was never a time she was not surrounded by dogs, cats, birds, horses, chickens, ducks, geese and others, both domestic and wild.

She was instrumental in getting the Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard started in Edgartown and wrote the Please Adopt Us column in the Gazette for several years. Her love of animals was so great that if someone could not afford treatment or surgery for their injured or sick pets at the Vineyard Veterinary Clinic, she would cover the cost. Many pets were spared from euthanasia due to this philanthropic gesture.

Jan is survived by her husband, Floyd C. Norton of Edgartown, son Stuart L. Norton of Bloomington, Ind., daughter Deborah B. Norton of Essex Junction, Vt., a grandson and two great-grandchildren. She also leaves behind her two beloved cats, Annie and Indy.

A private graveside service was held on March 3 at the Tower Hill Cemetery. A celebration of life will be announced at a future date.

The family gives heartfelt thanks to Jan’s caregivers, care managers, nurses, aids and friends who provided exceptional care over the past several months while she was in declining health.

Donations may be made to The Animal Shelter of Martha’s Vineyard, P.O. Box 1829, Edgartown, MA 02539, or VNA Hospice of Cape Cod (www.vnacapecod.org).