William Hillyard Norlin

May 5, 1924July 20, 2018

“Bill” or “Coach” - as family, friends and associates usually called him - lived quite a full life of 94 years. He was an entrepreneur, musician, pilot, backpacker, woodworker, consultant and author. In general, he was an explorer and innovator of new ideas.

In his early teens, he successfully started the only bicycle repair shop in his Kansas hometown. Before becoming a World War II pilot and Army Air Corps instructor in his late teens, he was a proficient jazz drummer and singer. Bill was always a classical and jazz enthusiast and continued with his singing as a soloist for his church choir. Bill also continued with flying, taking his family on vacations piloting small planes.

After the war, he worked in accounting and studied engineering in Denver. Shortly after marrying his wife Bette in 1947 (a marriage of 54 years), he started working as a carpenter, and the newly-weds built their first home “by hand” on weekends and after work. That house still stands in East Denver.

Bill continued with carpentry, but was asked to work as the main cabinet maker for a new subdivision in Denver called Arapahoe Acres, which later became famous. It was put into the National Register of Historic Places in 1998 as a tribute to the 1950’s Mid-Century Modernism style of homes featuring a community designed with the influences of Frank Lloyd Wright’s style and concepts. Bill worked additionally at a follow-up community called Arapahoe Hills before becoming a founding partner of Criterion Woodwork, Inc. in 1964.

Criterion expanded into architectural woodworking millwork, winning accolades for it’s custom woodwork for businesses, schools, churches, hospitals, banks and other large commercial projects. During this time, Bill also became president of the Colorado Chapter of the national Architectural Woodwork Institute. He later served on AWI’s national Board of Directors, and authored many seminars on woodworking techniques and standards for professional woodworkers.

In the mid-1980’s, Bill leveraged his experience to become a consultant to the woodworking industry, having clients in nearly every state in the U.S. He published a monthly newsletter for his clients called The Business of Woodwork Newsletter, for nearly 5 years. In 1992, he published his book, The Business of Woodwork, which is still in use by thousands of woodworking businesses and trade schools to this day.

Being from the prairies of Kansas, Bill fell in love with Colorado’s majestic mountains. He took his three young children and wife on short camping trips, and then on longer backpacking trips (before down-filled sleeping bags, nylon tents and gore-tex were available). He also became an assistant scoutmaster, helping his son’s troop with monthly camping trips and coaching their softball teams.

Bill’s Family:

Bill was born in Lindsborg, Kansas May 5, 1924 to John W. and Adah Skinner Norlin. He was the youngest of four children. He had two older sisters, Jeanne Coulter and Margaret Clark, and an older brother, John.

He married Bette Jane Kirkpatrick in Denver on June 12, 1947. She preceded him in death on July 5, 2001.

He is survived by three children - Kirk (Jentie Miller), Deb Norlin and Pam Edinger (David), five grandchildren - David Aglar (Sarah), Amy Stuber (Tim), Kyle Crawford, Anna Norlin and Whitney Edinger (Ryan Vuchetich).

He is also survived by eight great-grandchildren Rory Stuber, Mary Aglar, Sarah Aglar, Amelia Desjardins, Chance Stuber, Selah Desjardins, Liam Desjardins and Maisy Crawford.

Bill will be joining Bette at: Ft. Logan National Cemetery 4400 West Kenyon Avenue Denver, CO Section T2 Site 3-L

Memorial services will be announced at a later date.

Please leave your love for the family by using our on line guest book.


  • Fort Logan Inurnment to be announced at a later date

William Hillyard Norlin

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Kirk Norlin

August 3, 2018

Bill in Army Air Corps uniform circa 1945

Kirk Norlin

August 3, 2018

Bill and his wife of 54 years working on their first home - 1661 Roslyn St., Denver, Colorado circa 1948

Kirk Norlin

August 3, 2018

Bill at an AWI woodworking trade show book signing

Kirk Norlin

August 1, 2018

Bill with his great-grandson Chance