Michael James Norton

STANDISH – Michael James Norton, 33, also known as Michael HMC Norton, the Heavy Metal Cripple, was born April 18, 1987, in Portland, to Terrence and Suzan (Roberts) Norton.

He was born with bilateral club feet, for which he had to have casting and surgery. It wasn’t until he was 4 years old, living in Germany, that we noticed he was having other difficulties. We found later that he had Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. The doctors did not give us much encouragement, except that we would need counseling if we had problems along the way because Michael’s life would be shortened. All we can say is that doctors do not have all the answers. Nobody should take away your hope, ever. Mike’s life proved that. He lived until the age of 33, using a ventilator for five years.

Michael was quite the nonconformist and rebel. When Michael was diagnosed, we tried to be sensitive to the fact that we did not want to tell him. Although it was chronic sorrow watching our son lose abilities. We wanted him to live a somewhat normal life and having a brother (John Terrence Norton, born in 1989) really helped. We are so grateful they had each other and they brought us so much joy.

Michael was fortunate to be granted a wish with Make-A-Wish Foundation of Maine and went to Hawaii to see volcanos and swim with dolphins in 1997. This was also when we introduced a wheelchair. He represented Maine as the Goodwill Ambassador of MDA for five years, with many appearances on the Jerry Lewis telethon. His brother was part of it all.

When Mike was a teenager, he had to have surgery at Shriners Hospital for placement of rods for scoliosis from prolonged use of wheelchair. Throughout the years, he had many emergency room visits. Mike always maintained his sense of humor. However, frustration became a friend which is totally understandable.

His education continued and his strengths for art and English made it appropriate for him to attend a college to study art and film. Mike and his brother John “JT” traveled all over with friends who loved to skateboard. They made hundreds of videos documenting what would later become part of the “Brothers Documentary.”

JT started having some difficulties due to Schizophrenia and, at the same time, cared for his brother. After five years, JT took his life, which was Mike’s biggest loss but also his motivation to make a documentary to honor his brother. Mike graduated with honors from SMCC in 2017 with a degree in Communications and New Media. He did freelance work from his home office and also learned to operate a 3D printer. The 3D things he made were shared with special friends, including roses for his gal pals.

Mike lived life boldly and dangerously, like his brother; while always helping others if they needed help. Mike collaborated with Sebago Brewing to make a West Coast IPA called ‘No Comply’, named for a skateboard trick as a fundraiser for Brothers Documentary. He discreetly and respectfully reached out to people who were in crisis. He showed people there are reasons to be alive and not to let your limitations define you. He had a tough attitude and dared to do just about anything. He especially loved making hot sauce, drinking beer, making mead, and designing labels for all of his products.

He was an accomplished video editor and created a ton of funny videos, especially during COVID, but also skate videos of his brother JT. He shared them with us all. He liked to say that his job was to make people laugh and he liked his viewers to see him suffer online eating the hottest products he could find.

He was a huge fan of Motörhead, and has an extensive vinyl collection as well as CD collection of heavy-metal music and other genres. He was an avid Lego designer and was in the process of making a huge music venue with a band and a large crowd of unusual characters.

Mike visited breweries and museums. He attended Record Store Day and Com-icons. Last year he ran three fantasy football leagues, coordinated family jeopardy on Zoom during COVID, and he organized all of the camping theme nights. Themes at camp included Game of Thrones, Hank Williams, pirates, battle jacket, tie dye, toga, and heavy metal.

His final projects included campaigning for president and creating a TV show with his friend Patrick Avery called The Dark Hour. Mike was working on a book and looking for someone to illustrate his comic book about the zombie apocalypse. His mind was creating 24/7 and Michael lived a very full life. He was a member of Portland Elks Lodge #188. He was a gift to all he knew especially his family.

We would like to thank all of his medical providers along the way, and thank his numerous friends at Pine Tree Camp in Rome, Maine, for which he attended summers for maybe 18 years. We are very thankful for good friends, Patrick, Eric, Bret, Nick, and Lil Jess. Thank you to those of you who stayed close to Mike especially after he lost his brother. Mike had one true love, and she knows who she is.

Mike passed at home on Friday night, July 31, 2020.

Michael was predeceased by his brother, John Terrence Norton in 2016.

He is survived by his parents, Terrence and Suzan (Roberts) Norton; grandparents, Patricia (Death Metal Gram) and John Roberts of South Portland, Patricia Blackwood of Wales, Mass.; aunts and uncles, Sharon and favorite uncle, Denny Conley of South Portland, David and Sally Roberts of Winthrop, Carol and Earl Merrill of Westbrook, Jeanne and Tony Roman of Holland, Mass., Andrea Beaudry of Brimfield, Mass.; several cousins, Jesse, Tara, Benjamin, Kayla, Sam, Kenneth (DJ), Kevin, Dylan, Natalie, Eric, Nick, John, Benjamin, Samantha, Elizabeth, and Jillian; as well as many extended cousins in Canada, Maine, Massachusetts and New Zealand. Lastly, he was survived by his favorite dog, Scout and dogs, George and Abby.

As a precaution for Covid-19, two services will be held on Saturday, September 12, at the Windham Chapel of Dolby Blais and Segee, 434 River Road. Friends and family with last names A-J are invited to visit from 11 a.m to noon, with a service at noon. Friends and family with last names K-Z are invited to visit from 3 p.m. until the start of the service at 4 p.m. Live streaming information will be available closer to service time. Interment at Sebago Lake Cemetery will be held in the Spring of 2021. To express condolences or participate in Michael’s online tribute please visit, http://www.DolbyBlaisSegee.com.

Donations in Michael’s memory for the advancement of the Brothers Documentary may be made to: https://www.gofundme.com/f/reedit-of-brothers-film-and-film-fest- funding?utm_source=customer&utm_medium=copy_link&utm_campaign=p_cf+share-flow-1

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