Skip to content

Dorothy Sarah Norris

Dorothy Sarah Chambers was born in the Sydney suburb of Annandale, New South Wales, Australia on April 19, 1912.   Dorothy grew up with 5 brothers, 3 older and 2 younger. Dorothy's four brothers lived well into their 90s before passing.

Dorothy met Robert W. Norris, an American serving as Assistant Engineer on a refrigeration ship in the Army Transport Service, in Sydney in 1944.  They fell in love and later married on July 28, 1945 in Sydney.  Because of travel authorization delay, Robert left first in December of 1946 and Dorothy followed in November 1947 with their 7 month old son John on a converted Liberty ship.  Dorothy and John arrived in San Francisco on December 2, 1947 where Robert was waiting. They then made their way to Seattle and on to the Alaska Steamship SS Aleutian and sailed to Seward, Alaska. They then took the Alaska Railroad to Palmer Alaska, arriving near the end of December. Once a house became available, they moved to the Jonesville Coal Mine near Sutton, Alaska, where Robert was a coal miner.  Being a city girl from a warm climate, Dorothy was quiet shocked to find her new home rather small and without electricity and no in-door plumbing.  Water was retrieved from the creek with a bucket after chopping a hole in the ice, and the bathroom was an "out-house" out side down a path in the snow. Dorothy and Robert had 3 more sons, Mike, Doug, and Raymond, and lived in Suntrana, Fairbanks, Seward through the 50s, 60s, and early 70s.

Robert died in 1973 of cancer.  Dorothy moved back to Fairbanks in 1976 and became a U. S. citizen in 1978.  She moved to Anchorage in 2001 where she currently resides. She has made many trips back to Australia to visit family and friends there, her last trip made in 2008 with her 4 sons. Her favorite stories are of her younger years in Sydney singing in Musical and Dramatic Society and the Sydney Eisteddfod, and of her early days pioneering in Alaska.