Robert L. Norton

Robert L. Norton, 85, of Naples, Florida, and Mattapoisett, Massachusetts, passed away peacefully after a long illness, overlooking his beloved view of Point Connett and Buzzard’s Bay. He is survived by Nancy, his loving wife of 63 years.

            Robert’s devotion to his family was unwavering. He was a loving father to his children: Robert L. (Pamela) Norton Jr. of Wellesley, MA, Mary Norton (Michael Feinberg) of Medfield, MA, and Thomas Norton (Cheri Alix) of Norfolk, MA. His role as a grandfather brought him immense pride, and he cherished his grandchildren, Kayla (Garrett) Ledbetter of Norfolk, MA, Nicholas Feinberg of Boston, MA, Sarah (Daniel) Neiterman of Boston, MA, Thomas A. Norton of Upton, MA, and Joshua Norton of Wellesley, MA and he has one great-grandson, Oliver Ledbetter. Robert was loving uncle to many nieces and nephews living in Massachusetts and Florida.

            Robert’s love for sailing was a true passion. Guiding his sloop, he found his greatest joy on a lazy summer afternoon, returning to Point Connett on a following sea after getting ‘good and wet’ tacking out to Woods Hole in the southwest chop. His love for the water was undeniable and brought him immense happiness.

            Robert’s journey was marked by numerous academic and professional triumphs. He earned his undergraduate degrees in mechanical engineering and industrial technology from Northeastern University, and later, an M.S. in engineering design at Tufts University. His dedication was recognized with an honorary Doctorate of Engineering from Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in 2012. Robert was a registered professional engineer in Massachusetts and Florida, with a wealth of industrial experience in engineering. He was driven to share his knowledge by teaching mechanical engineering and related subjects at Northeastern University, Tufts University, and Worcester Polytechnic Institute.

            Robert’s career was marked by significant contributions to the field of engineering. He spent a decade designing cameras and machinery at Polaroid and Jet Spray Cooler. He spent five years innovating artificial heart and noninvasive assisted ventilation devices at Tufts New England Medical Center and Boston City Hospital. Even in his later years, he remained active as an independent consultant on engineering projects, holding 13 U.S. patents. His innovative and impactful work continues to inspire and earn the respect of the engineering community.

            In academia, Robert joined Worcester Polytechnic Institute in 1981 as Milton Prince Higgins II Distinguished Professor. Over 31 years, he taught undergraduate and graduate courses, focusing on kinematics, dynamics, vibrations, and machine design. His dedication to education guided mechanical engineering students in applied mathematics and practical, project-based learning.

            Robert authored numerous technical papers and journal articles and was a prolific writer, with works including “Kinematics and Dynamics of Machinery” and “Machine Design: An Integrated Approach.” which are used in leading universities in North America, Asia, and Europe. His contributions were recognized globally as a Fellow and Life Member of the

            American Society of Mechanical Engineers and a member of the Society of Automotive Engineers. In 2007, Robert received the U.S. Professor of the Year Award for Massachusetts from the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the Council for Advancement and Support of Education.

            Robert also had a passion for sharing knowledge beyond the classroom. He created “Norton’s Memoirs: A History of the Machine,” that shared insights based on his experiences. In 2021, he edited and published, “The History of Point Connett” that shares the multi-generational stories of 15 families deeply connected to one of the South Coast’s most scenic seaside communities.

            His legacy as a father, grandfather, uncle, engineer, educator, and mentor will continue to inspire future generations. The family will hold a private service, and a celebration of his life is planned for later this year. In honor of Robert’s fondness for Mattapoisett, donations to Mattapoisett Land Trust ( will help preserve natural resources and wildlife areas for the use and enjoyment of present and future generations.

            A private family service will be held at a later date.  Arrangements are with the Saunders-Dwyer Mattapoisett Home for Funerals, 50 County Rd. (Rt. 6), Mattapoisett. For online guestbook, visit

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