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Steve Norwick's Death Announced

Former SSU professor never regained consciousness from June 8 hit-and-run accident. Legacy guestbook link included

Editor's note: The recent passing of popular SSU professor Steve Norwick and the on-going case of the hit-and-run accident that ultimately took his life continues to draw sympathy and interest from Patch readers. Please add your comments below, and any photographs you care to share as well.

, 68, of Penngrove, died at 4:16 p.m. on Tuesday, June 19, according to the Sonoma County coroner's office. Norwick had been in a coma since he was hit from behind by a truck while riding south on Petaluma Hill Road near East Railroad Avenue.The retired Sonoma State University professor was hit by a truck while riding his bicycle in Penngrove on June 8.

The alleged driver, , also 68, of Rohnert Park, was arrested on June 8 after he admitted to two off-duty law enforcement officers that he was involved in the collision, according to the California Highway Patrol. Investigators said Cowart had told them he believed the cyclist was not injured.

CHP investigators said debris found at the scene, including a right-side mirror, matched Cowart's Dodge truck.

Norwick had taught in SSU's Department of Environmental Studies and Planning for almost four decades before retiring in May.

Norwick's daughter, Sara Rozet Norwick, said a small private event to honor her father is being planned. For the next seven days, the family will be sitting shiva, or mourning, as per the Jewish custom.

Former students had been planning a large retirement party for the geology aficionado this summer, and are now shaping up efforts to throw the party as a memorial for the beloved professor.

Sara Rozet Norwick said her father died surrounded by family and close friends. She released a statement on behalf of the family.

"The family hopes that Steve's legacy will live on in small acts -- picking up a piece of garbage, reading a book, singing, refilling a reusable water bottle, enjoying nature, teaching, etc."

"If people want to make a donation, the family suggests the California State Parks Foundation and the Sonoma County Regional Parks Foundation," the statement read.

Norwick, who was born in San Francisco, lived with his wife just down the block from the campus where he taught for nearly 40 years.

In his Sonoma State University online profile, he called her his "college sweetheart" and said he met her at Pomona College, where he received his bachelor of arts degree before studying at Dartmouth College and the University of Montana, where he received his master's degree and a doctorate in geology, respectively. His hobbies included hiking, gardening and playing music, and he was an avid bicyclist.

SSU spokeswoman Sue Kashack said Norwick was always riding around campus on his bicycle, and pedaled to work. He was environmentally conscious, she said. Kashack remembered him as a "very nice man, very friendly" and a popular professor who focused on water issues related to the environment.

Those who wish to send condolences to the family may do so on the Legacy Guestbook website.

on a single count of felondy hit-and-run, pleaded not and-run Monday afternoon in Sonoma County Superior Court. He is out of custody on $50,000 bail.

The Sonoma County District Attorney's Office is expected to amend the complaint against Cowart in light of Norwick's death, but is awaiting results of toxicology tests, according to Terry Menshek, a spokeswoman for the district attorney's office

"We have been in communication with the family ... our hearts go out to them for their tragic loss," the district attorney's office said in a statement released today.

Cowart has appeared in court in a wheelchair. His attorney, George Boisseau, said Cowart recently suffered a stroke, has an aneurysm in his neck and is hard of hearing.

Cowart and his family have declined to comment on the case. He is expected back in court on July 13.

Updated with material from Bay City News, 6:12 pm.

pdf June 20, 2012 at 06:22 PM
This news breaks my heart. Steve was a member of my religious community and an avid cyclist. The community has lost a lot this day. May his memory be a blessing.
Janette Brown June 20, 2012 at 10:19 PM
So So sorry to hear this . RIP Steve . May the person who did this be brought to justice. My thoughts and prayers go out to his family and friends.
Karen Pierce Gonzalez June 20, 2012 at 10:22 PM
This is very sad news. I hope the family's grief is both swift and gentle.
Mark Richardson June 20, 2012 at 10:39 PM
I met Steve in August of 1976.... he is the reason I do my environmental work.... I was looking for his phone number today when I found out...I am sad....so sad... I am living the life he practiced and taught..... I hope to honor Steve and his family.... always....
Jake Mackenzie June 21, 2012 at 02:03 PM
An immeasureable loss to our community and to his family. He was a grand man!
no name June 21, 2012 at 03:31 PM
I was a student of Steven Norwick in the early 1990's. he was a wonderful man and a great teacher. My thoughts and prayers are with his family.
joi June 21, 2012 at 11:22 PM
I was a former student in one of the Environmental Studies and Planning programs. Steve, his views on the environment and his vast knowledge will be missed. Good memories will continue to be with me.
Peninnah Curtis June 22, 2012 at 07:56 PM
My mother taught his girls and my sister went to school with them. A wonderful man, with an amazing family. Blessings to you, and many hugs, from all of us. Penny Hays, Ninnah and Sweetbriar Rose.

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