Bernard F. "Bernie" Norton Sr., a retired career FBI agent who later served as head of the Internal Investigation Division of the Baltimore Police Department, died Friday of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease at HeartHomes in Lutherville. He was 97.
Bernard Francis Norton Sr., son of Michael A. Norton, a Philadelphia & Reading Railroad executive, and Rose A. Norton, a homemaker, was born and raised in Philadelphia, where he graduated in 1936 from the old Northeast Catholic High School.
He earned a bachelor's degree in finance in 1940 from St. Joseph's University in Philadelphia. His father had died when he was 18 and he was offered a job at the railroad, but after two years he decided railroading wasn't for him and applied to the FBI, where he began working as a clerk.
During World War II, he took voluntary leave from the FBI and, after attending the Naval Academy's Midshipman School, was assigned to the Navy's Amphibious Warfare Division in the Pacific and participated in campaigns from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima.
After the war, Mr. Norton worked with the FBI as an agent, acting field supervisor and acting inspector. He was a member of the FBI's Baltimore field office until his retirement in 1968, when then-Baltimore Police Commissioner Donald D. Pomerleau appointed him head of the department's Internal Investigation Division.
He retired again in 1980 and embarked on a third career when he entered into a 12-year partnership growing pecans in Georgia and marketing them to military commissaries in the Middle Atlantic and Northeast, as well as government bureaus in Washington.
A longtime resident of Glenkirk Road in Towson, Mr. Norton was an active communicant of the Immaculate Heart of Mary Roman Catholic Church in Baynesville for 65 years, where he helped establish the Confraternity of Christian Doctrine program and taught there.
For many years, he played club badminton and twice reached the finals in state competitions, family members said.
His wife of 57 years, the former Eileen M. Krane, whom he met when she was an FBI receptionist, died in 2002.
A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 11 a.m. Thursday at his church, 8501 Loch Raven Blvd., Baynesville.
He is survived by two sons, Bernard F. Norton of Timonium and Brian R. Norton of Towson; a daughter, Maureen E. Norton of North Baltimore; two grandsons; and three great-grandchildren.