Rock Star Nancy Norby

by Gayle Marechal

(Published May 2021)


If you own a dog and use the off-leash area of Mt. Tabor Park, you can thank Nancy Norby, the chief advocate for an off-leash area in the park. When Nancy got her first dog, Sam, in 1989 there was no dog park or off-leash area in Mt. Tabor Park and no real push for such from those with dogs who used the park. After getting a place on the committee for the master plan for Mt. Tabor Park, Nancy realized that if dog owners were going to have a voice in decisions involving their animals she was going to have to be that voice, and her primary motivation for meeting with the group that met to form Friends of Mt. Tabor Park was to secure an off-leash area within the park.


In the summer of 2003, a series of dog poisonings in Laurelhurst Park, brought the need for off-leash areas in city parks to the public’s attention. Mt. Tabor Park was not among the first twenty or so areas deemed appropriate for dogs despite the fact that the neighborhoods within a quarter of a mile surrounding the park had the most licensed dog owners within the city. When this information became known, the city decided to add Mt Tabor Park to the list of parks deemed appropriate for dog use. The southern area of the park near Warner-Pacific University was designated as the best place for an off-leash area, and Nancy became the first steward of the off-leash area.

Even though Mt. Tabor Park now had an off-leash area there was still considerable work to be done. Specific boundaries for the off-leash area had to be established, and there was disagreement as to whether the area should be fully fenced or not. Over time, gates were added at each end of the off-leash area, a water source was added, and signage was put in place. As steward of the off-leash area, Nancy was active in making the dog park a friendly and usable place for dogs and their people.


Nancy had a vision for an off-leash area, she served on the Friends of Mt Tabor Park board for a number of years and was named a Friend of the Year. She has also been active with the Mt. Tabor Neighborhood Association and got on that board “because of dogs.” Dogs are often referred to as “man’s best friend.” Nancy could certainly qualify as “dogs’ best friend,” at least those dogs who enjoy their own special place in Mt. Tabor Park thanks to Nancy.