Russell Bertram Norton Jr., the former principal of Sandwich High School who retired in 2003, died at Cape Cod Hospital in Hyannis on September 15. Mr. Norton, 74, lived in East Sandwich.
The son of Russell B. Norton Sr. and Ruth Elaine (McKenney) Norton, he was born in Providence, Rhode Island.
He grew up in Needham and furthered his education at University of Michigan, and then Westfield State and Framingham State colleges, and achieved his master's degree in education.
Mr. Norton worked as a teacher, assistant principal and principal in the Needham, Sandwich, and Mt. Greylock school systems.
He taught mathematics at Sandwich senior high from 1983 to 1987, and served as the school’s principal from 1992 to 1999. During his time there the junior and senior high schools occupied separate wings of the school.
After saying good-bye to the Class of 1999 and his career at Sandwich High School, he became principal of Mount Greylock Regional High School in Williamstown.
In an interview with the Enterprise before starting his new position, Mr. Norton said his greatest accomplishment at SHS was the doubling of the number of students taking AP courses, and his supervision of increases in the AP and SAT scores. The only thing he was disappointed about in his career at SHS, he said, was not being able to convince the community to hire more teachers.
Mr. Norton said that the school's biggest assets were the outstanding student body and the amazing faculty. His colleagues at the school said Mr. Norton had hired great staff members and provided many role models for the students.
He officially retired in 2003 after more than 30 years in education.
Mr. Norton had a love of soccer. He played at Westfield and continued to play while teaching in Needham. After moving to Sandwich, he was a member of the group responsible for bringing a separate girls' soccer program to the town. He also coached many of his children's soccer teams through the town club and high school varsity programs.
An avid carpenter, he built the family home in Sandwich and continuously improved it well into his retirement including adding an orchard. He worked annually on perfecting his apple cider recipe on a cider press.
Mr. Norton stayed busy in retirement. He worked for RGIS, became active in the local Lions club, and worked at Ioka Valley Farm in Hancock, where he could be found in his Santa Claus outfit every Christmas. He also found time to travel.
He leaves his wife of 51 years, Katherine (Leab) Norton; his sister, Michele Norton; three children, Heather Holst, Stephanie Rausch and Russell Norton; three grandchildren; and other family.
A memorial gathering will be Thursday, September 23, from 3 to 6 PM at Nickerson-Bourne Funeral Home, 154 Route 6A in Sandwich.
Burial will be private.