SOUTH PORTLAND – Robert Norton was part of a proud and vanishing tradition of door-to-door salesmen.

For the past 54 years, he sold home cleaning products for Fuller Brush Co. He joined Fuller Brush in 1957 and retired in November — the day after his 84th birthday. He died on Monday at the Gosnell Memorial Hospice House in Scarborough.

“He didn’t believe in retiring,” said Scott Norton of Gray, the youngest of his three children. “He always said he liked walking around and it gave him something to do. That was him. That was my father.”

Mr. Norton sold household products mostly in Portland, South Portland and Cape Elizabeth. A 2007 news story in The Forecaster said he had nearly 2,000 customers throughout the area.

In that story, he talked about the many changes in the industry.

“Prices have gone up about 300 percent,” Norton said in the story. “Inflation is killing everybody.”

At the end of his career, he was selling and delivering products to 30 to 50 customers.

“He enjoyed being a Fuller Brush man,” his son said. “He really enjoyed seeing people and delivering products to them.”

Mr. Norton wasn’t the type of guy who could sit still for long. When he was in his 70s, he took a job delivering The Portland Press Herald/Maine Sunday Telegram to subscribers in South Portland’s Meetinghouse Hill neighborhood.

“He never believed in stopping,” his son said. “He was always on the go. It was in his genetic makeup.”

Mr. Norton was a lifelong resident of South Portland. He grew up on Alfred Street, on a large vegetable farm. He graduated from high school and joined the Navy in 1947.

Around 1955, he met his first wife, Carlen Norton. The couple raised three children. She died in 1975.

In 1994, he married Betty Lou Norton, who died in 2006. Scott Norton said his father and second wife enjoyed camping and taking long drives along the Maine coast.

Mr. Norton had a passion for dowsing. He picked up the hobby in 1961 and became an active member of the Southern Maine chapter of the American Society of Dowsers. His son said his father enjoyed helping people find water on their property.

Mr. Norton was right about 60 percent of the time, his son said.

Staff Writer Melanie Creamer can be contacted at 791-6361 or at:

[email protected]