For­mer Mt. Le­banon res­i­dent stressed bond of fam­ily to sons

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - News Obituaries - By Brad Townsend

Nor­ton Cuban qui­etly moved from the Pitts­burgh area to Dal­las in the early 2000s, shortly af­ter one of his three sons, Mark, not-so-qui­etly pur­chased the Dal­las Mav­er­icks.

Nor­ton, a work­ing-class man who owned an auto trim shop in Mt. Le­banon with his brother Marty un­til the late 1990s, got to travel the world and cel­e­brate the Mav­er­icks’ 2011 NBA cham­pi­onship in Mi­ami, thanks to his sons’ suc­cesses, Mark’s in par­tic­u­lar.

Nor­ton Cuban died Tues­day in Dal­las. He was 92.

Mark told the Dal­las Morn­ing News ear­lier this year that his fa­ther was in de­clin­ing health, mostly due to age.

An­other Cuban brother, Brian, said Thurs­day that his fa­ther’s heart sim­ply gave out.

“Every­one he met was his friend,” Brian said. “He was charis­matic. He took life as it came and he al­ways had a smile. He was just a very lov­ing, car­ing per­son.

“And he ab­so­lutely lived for his sons. … Lit­er­ally, ev­ery­thing he did was for us. That con­tin­ued up un­til the last mo­ment.”

Brian said the fam­ily al­ready has held a pri­vate ser­vice.

In con­trast to the highly vis­i­ble life of Mark, and to a lesser ex­tent sons Brian and Jeff, Nor­ton was never in the spot­light.

The Mav­er­icks or­ga­ni­za­tion did not an­nounce Nor­ton Cuban’s death, but when word spread Thurs­day, pub­lic con­do­lences poured in to his sons, which in it­self was a tribute to Nor­ton.

“I’m glad there is a pub­lic cel­e­bra­tion of my dad’s life,” Brian said. “This is his obit. I’m glad there is a pub­lic cel­e­bra­tion be­cause I want peo­ple to know what a won­der­ful, lov­ing, car­ing per­son my fa­ther was.”

“When Mark hit it big, my dad trav­eled the world. And you know what? If there was any­one who earned that right, it was my fa­ther.”

Nor­ton and Shirley Cuban raised Mark, Brian and Jeff in Mt. Le­banon, al­though Nor­ton and Shirley even­tu­ally sep­a­rated.

Mark moved to Dal­las in 1982, soon fol­lowed by Jeff and Brian.

Nor­ton, who also served in the Korean War and man­aged a Pitts­burgh record store early in adult­hood, moved to Dal­las in the early 2000s, shortly af­ter Mark pur­chased the Mav­er­icks in Jan­uary 2000.

Dur­ing a speech at South by South­west in 2014, Mark told the au­di­ence that he learned his great­est life les­son from Nor­ton.

“My dad is 87; he’s go­ing strong, he’s a ma­chine,” Mark said that day. “My dad says it over and over, ‘To­day’s the youngest you’re ever go­ing to be. You’ve got to live like it. You’ve got to live young every day.’ And that’s what I try to do.”

Brian noted that his fa­ther was not col­lege ed­u­cated, which made it all the more im­per­a­tive to him that his three sons grad­u­ate from col­lege. Each of them did.

Nor­ton, too, was one of three sib­lings, all boys. Like Brian, Nor­ton was the mid­dle son.

“He would stress, ‘No mat­ter where you go in life, no mat­ter what hap­pens, you three take care of each other. You call your brother. You tell your brother you love him. And you make sure your broth­ers are OK,’” Brian re­called.

“He un­der­stood the value of the love of broth­ers, the bond of fam­ily. That was truly a gift that he passed down to us.

“If you want to know how that [man­i­fested] now, in 2018, up un­til the day he passed, 1,200 miles from Pitts­burgh, Mark, Jeff, my dad and I were walk­ing dis­tance to each other.”

Brian said he is proud that his fa­ther got to see him emerge from drug and al­co­ho­lad­dic­tion and de­pres­sion.

Brian has writ­ten two books about his strug­gles and tri­umphs and said he has been clean for 11 years.

Not sur­pris­ingly, Brian said, Nor­ton was in­stru­men­tal in help­ing him find him­self, and his even­tual path.

“When I was strug­gling be­fore I went into re­cov­ery, I needed to be with some­body and I was alone,” Brian said. “I went over and talked to my fa­ther, who I had hid­den my strug­gles from very well.

“And I told him what was go­ing on and his words to me were, ‘Brian, move in with me. I love you. We’ll get through this to­gether.’

“That’s who he was.”

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