GF man dies after competing in Eurekan
The Eureka Springs Multisport Festival was marked by tragedy as a Green Forest man died from heart complications suffered during the cycling part of the race on Saturday, Aug. 11.
His family confirmed Monday that 58-year-old William Joe Norton, Jr., also known as Chip, died after being transported to the hospital Saturday afternoon. Norton suffered from heart complications during the cycling race, his family confirmed. Bruce Dunn, who promotes the Eurekan, said Norton was transported to the hospital after having problems during the 62-mile Eurekan Gran Fondo bike race.
“His family is certainly in our thoughts and prayers,” Dunn said.
This is the first fatality in the Eurekan’s history, Dunn said.
“We’ve been doing this for eight years. With any biking, running or triathlon events, there’s always scrapes and bruises.”
He’s saddened by the news of Norton’s passing, Dunn said.
“We know it’s always a possibility when you’re putting on events like this,” Dunn said. “But you certainly hope it never happens.”
Norton’s sister Lori said her brother was the life of the party.
“You’d walk into a room and he’d know everybody,” Lori said. “He had friends in every walk of life. He never knew a stranger. He’s somebody who you wanted to be a buddy with. He had great jokes and stories.”
Norton loved traveling, cycling and playing music, Lori said. Competing in the Eurekan, Lori said, was something Norton looked forward to.
“He was having the best race he’s ever had, and I think he just pushed so hard,” Lori said. “He was not afraid of anything. He was such a daredevil.”
Her favorite thing about her brother, Lori said, is how he made others feel.
“He just made people around him feel special and loved and wonderful,” Lori said. “He was so much fun to be around.”
Norton had three children, two grandchildren and one grandchild on the way.
His oldest son Jake said some of his fondest memories of his dad involve cycling. Jake remembered cycling along the beach with his mom and dad when he was a kid, saying his dad instilled a love of adventure in him. The best way to describe his dad, Jake said, is “work hard, play hard.”
“If you put your heart and mind to anything, it will come back to you, and he did that in a lot of ways,” Jake said. “He built houses. He played in bands. He loved races.”
Jake said he hopes everyone remembers his dad as the kind of person who always tried to improve.
“Everyone makes mistakes in their life. My dad was one that owned up to those mistakes and carried them with him,” Jake said. “He always tried to make things better. If you make mistakes, you can come out on the other side. That’s what I learned from him.”
In lieu of flowers, donate to the Ratzlaff Legacy Foundation at https://runsignup.com/Race/Donate/AR/GreenForest/RatRace5k.