Norton W. Daniels Jr., Legislator and Historian
Norton William Daniels Jr. of Bridgehampton, who served for many years as an East Hampton Town assessor and helped start the movement to preserve open space and farmland after being elected to the Suffolk County Legislature in the mid-1970s, died on July 19 at his son’s house in Sag Harbor. He was 98.
Mr. Daniels was a member of the East Hampton Lions Club, the Everit Albert Herter Post of the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and American Legion Post 419. He had been a member of the East Hampton Fire Department for 25 years and was a member of the East Hampton School Board for four years.
Called Bucket, he was the former owner of Bucket’s Deli on Newtown Lane in East Hampton. He was also a master carpenter and boatbuilder, who loved building boats and selling them to make room for more, his son John Daniels said. He enjoyed clamming, fish, and pheasant and duck hunting.
From 1980 to 1990, Mr. Daniels lived in Delray Beach, Fla., and from 1990 to 2010 in Boynton Beach, Fla., where he organized reunions of East Hamptoners who referred to themselves as the Lost Tribe of Bonac.
He was born at home in Amagansett on Oct. 20, 1919, one of three sons of the former Elizabeth Hawkins and Norton W. Daniels. His brothers, Harry Daniels and Robert Daniels, both of East Hampton, died before him.
He grew up on Cooper Lane in East Hampton and graduated from East Hampton High School in 1938. He served for four years as an airplane mechanic with the Army Air Force in World War II, assigned to New Guinea, the Dutch East Indies, Australia, and Japan, before being discharged in the State of Washington, whence he made his way home by train.
He and Mary L. Rampe, who was born on Floyd Street in East Hampton, married and had two sons, James Daniels of Boca Raton, Fla., and John Daniels of Sag Harbor, both of whom survive. Four grandchildren and six great-grandchildren survive as well.
With his father’s death, John Daniels said historical and family information covering at least several generations would disappear. Mr. Daniels filled the letters pages of The Star for the duration of his 30-year residence in Florida, which for several years in the mid-1990s resulted in a column of his own. He began in the early 1980s to write a book about growing up in East Hampton, and seven years later produced “My East Hampton,” a 400-page memoir filled with information about businesses, roads, people, work, schools, and recreation here before the postwar period. Averill Geus reviewed the book for The Star in 1992.
The family received visitors at the Yardley and Pino Funeral Home in East Hampton on Sunday. A funeral Mass was said at Most Holy Trinity Catholic Church in East Hampton on Monday, followed by burial at Most Holy Trinity Cemetery. Donations have been suggested to the Veterans of Foreign Wars Everit Albert Herter Post, 290 Montauk Highway, P.O. Box 5033, Wainscott 11975.