Wilbur Harrington Norcross (1882-1941)

Wilbur Harrington Norcross, 1920

Wilbur Harrington Norcross was born June 28, 1882 in Ralston, Pennsylvania. He attended Dickinson Seminary in Williamsport, Pennsylvania for two years before matriculating into Dickinson College in Carlisle, Pennsylvania as a student in 1905. At Dickinson, he received both his B.A. (1907) and M.A. (1913). He attended Johns Hopkins University for graduate work, receiving his Ph. D. in psychology in 1920.

During this time he was a Methodist minister for one year in Duncannon, Pennsylvania before returning to the Dickinson Seminary to teach Greek and Latin. He became dean by 1912, but left that post to attend Johns Hopkins in 1914. Norcross joined the Dickinson College faculty in 1916 as an associate professor of philosophy and education. When the war interrupted both his graduate studies and his teaching, he served at Love Field in Dallas, Texas as commander of a medical research laboratory for the air service, rising to the rank of major.

He returned to Dickinson in 1920, and, having completed his degree from Hopkins, switched his teaching fields and became an associate professor of psychology and philosophy. Norcross was instrumental in the creation of two distinct departments for philosophy and psychology. In 1924 he became a full professor, and was named to the R. V. C. Watkins Chair of Psychology in 1929.

In addition to his teaching, Norcross served as the junior class dean from 1931 to 1939. He was president of the local chapter of Phi Kappa Sigma and was named as national president of Omicron Delta Kappa in 1939. He was also a member of Phi Beta Kappa, and advised the Dramatics Club for fifteen years. He was coach of the College golf team until his death.

Norcross was also a founder of the Carlisle Kiwanis Club in 1920 and later became the district governor of the Kiwanis in 1923. Norcross was also president of the Y.M.C.A., a trustee of the Todd Memorial Home, and a director of the Methodist Home for Children in Shiremanstown. Norcross sat on the official board of the Methodist Church and was a member of the American Legion and the Masonic Lodge. From 1925 to 1926, he was the president of the Carlisle Chamber of Commerce, and at one point turned down a request to run for Congress.

Norcross married Alice Frysinger, and after her death in 1917, he married Helen M. Burns, class of 1912, who was dean of women and a librarian at the College. They had a daughter Isabel, class of 1940. Two days after his daughter's commencement, Wilbur Norcross suffered a sudden heart attack and passed away on June 11, 1941 at the age of 58.

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Dickinson College Archives
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