Gotham City had Batman, Metropolis Superman and West Hempstead has Rosalie Norton.
Her stature may be small, and her smile sweet, but this 43-year resident fights relentlessly to protect her community, like any super hero would.
When the crime-infested Courtesy Hotel terrorized the neighborhood, Norton campaigned for years to bring about . She's worked with law enforcement to rid the neighborhood of law-breakers, disturbances and others who would harm the beauty and safety of West Hempstead, and she has been a champion of other causes as well.
"Rosalie has worked tirelessly throughout the years to improve the quality of life for residents of West Hempstead," Walter Ejnes, current president of the West Hempstead school board told Patch. "She is an exceptional woman dedicated to her family and her community."
Norton has always been active in her community, according to her husband, Thomas, who she calls her "best friend."
"I'm not sure where she gets her energy from," he told Patch.
In addition to raising their three children in West Hempstead and running their business, Fidelifacts, together, she also became a leader in the PTA, and a trustee for the school and library boards. During that time, she had to make tough decisions including voting on the closing of the Eagle Avenue School, which the district now leases to Nassau BOCES.
Today, Norton is a grandmother and an active member of several volunteer organizations in the neighborhood, including the West Hempstead Community Support Association, which she is now president of, and the Lions Club and the Chamber of Commerce, serving on their boards as well.
"In her role as president, she has worked with local politicians and government to bring much needed funding to West Hempstead, which has helped with the and Hempstead Avenue," Ejnes, also a member of the Community Support Association, said.
Norton continues to press Nassau County to finish the renovations at Halls, and every time you see a new sign, bench or planter pop up along Hempstead Avenue you can bet that she has had a hand in it. She's also working right now with NYS Assemblyman Ed Ra and Sen. Dean Skelos tobeam from the Twin Towers for West Hempstead's 9/11 memorial.
Her efforts have not gone unnoticed. In 2009, Sen. Skelos presented Norton with the Woman of Distinction Award. She's also received the Make a Difference Award from the Town of Hempstead, the Lifetime Achievement Award from the West Hempstead School Board, the Service Above Self Award from the West Hempstead Rotary, Assemblyman Tom Alfano’s Woman of Distinction, the West Hempstead Lion’s Robert Uplinger Distinguished Service Award, the Cathedral Gardens Civic Association Neighbor of the Year, Vision Long Island’s Smart Growth award for “Community Leadership” and the American Legion Cathedral Post #1087 Community Service Award," among others.
West Hempstead resident Terese Santoro and her husband Steve say they respect Norton for her honesty and her willingness to listen to the feedback of others.
"The one thing that always strikes me about Rose is, whenever someone suggests, 'Hey, why doesn't the town do this differently...or that better?' Her reply is, 'Okay, what would you cut from the budget to pay for that?" or 'If you were in charge how exactly would you fix that?'" Santoro said. "These aren't just questions to put people in their place, she really is interested in new ideas and creative solutions to tough problems."
As for Norton herself, her Facebook page sums up her approach to life: "Life is good and the glass will never be half empty. Enjoy meeting people, tackling a problem, and working to make things better."