Remembering Brook Norton

Brook Norton, lone driver of City Cab, went on his final ride in the beginning of November. He is seen here in a perspective familiar to his many passengers. (Photo by John Jackson)

By Lura Jackson

There are certain positions in a community that put you in touch with virtually everyone. With very limited options for public transportation, Brook Norton’s capacity of giving rides to thousands of residents over the past few decades as a cab driver meant that he met and knew many people in the extended Calais region. When Brook passed away in the first week of November, amidst the mourning there was a question: After Brook had done what he could to care for so many, who would care for Brook’s remains in return?

A long-ago transplant from Florida, Brook had no family in the area other than an estranged son living in Brewer. He filled his days – from pre-dawn to dusk – with operating City Cab, a role he took on after previously driving for another cab company, following his operation of a downtown pizza shop, Bill Gibson provides.

Gibson was among Brook’s closest friends. Every day at 6 p.m., the two would meet in the IGA parking lot and discuss their days – Gibson sharing his efforts of working at Grampie Bill’s Place, and Brook sharing tales from his work with City Cab. “Neither one of us was getting rich. But we were having fun,” Gibson recalls. “He was a great man. He was so kind-hearted. He donated to just about everything you can think of.”

Brook had significant difficulty in walking in recent years, and it affected his ability to participate in some of his favorite activities. One of his friends, Daniel Matonic, recalled how Brook had said that he enjoyed cooking but was limited to take out meals. “He told me about a recipe his mom would make which he loved: mashed cauliflower on saltines. And navy bean soup.”

Brook, who Gibson said was 74, initially had a minor stroke that paralyzed one arm; he drove himself to the hospital and was admitted. Not long afterward, he had a major stroke that affected him much more severely. He wasn’t able to recover, and the attendants at Eastern Maine Medical Center moved him to an area where he could pass peacefully.

Gibson is concerned about what will happen to Brook’s remains and is looking into how a burial can be arranged outside of family permission. Another of Brook’s close friends, Pat Kelly, started a GoFundMe account to raise funds for his cremation. The fund is currently $500 short, and Kelly is asking for donations to be made at Mays. “Brook was loved by many, many people,” Kelly said. “It is sad not to have an obituary or a funeral. He was my friend for many years. Everybody needs somebody to take care of them.”

 

Donations for Brook’s cremation can be made to Mays Funeral Home.