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Page last updated at 21:54 GMT, Tuesday, 2 August 2005 22:54 UK

Nudist's naked burial wish denied

Coffin
Robert Norton's brothers hope to lay the controversy to rest

He came into this world naked, spent much of his time in it nude, but will - against his specific wishes - depart it fully clothed.

Robert Norton, of Pekin, Illinois, was often prosecuted during his lifetime for gardening and wandering outside his house in the nude.

The 82-year-old said he wanted to be buried in his birthday suit - but his family are having none of it.

His brothers have decided to lay him to rest in grey trousers and a shirt.

One of them, Jack, is a minister. "He's not going to be buried in the nude," he said.

The other, Duane, explained that his late brother's behaviour was not meant to offend people.

"He was a naturist, and he just chose to be in the nude as people who are seeking nature. He was a peace-loving person," he said.

'Right to nakedness'

Nonetheless, certain people were offended including, crucially, Norton's neighbours.

Brenda Loete said she never spoke to Norton despite living next door to him for more than a decade.

"We didn't really know him. We just had him arrested," she said.

She had spent years taking her daughter to the park rather than letting her play in the garden because of the naked old man next door, she said.

"Normally, if we had him arrested in the spring he'd be gone for the summer and we wouldn't have to worry about him until the next spring."

The cycle of arrest and prosecution lasted over four decades, until the World War II veteran was admitted to a nursing home.

He fought 20 arrests for indecency since his first in 1962, arguing that he had a constitutional right to public nakedness, the Associated Press reported.

His family said they hoped his burial would lay years of controversy to rest.

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08 Jan 04 |  Americas
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