Norbert A. Seals, a longtime political consultant and lobbyist who worked briefly in Dade County government, died on Tuesday, June 18, 2019, at Mt. Sinai Hospital in Miami Beach after a long bout with illness. He was 60 years old.
Born in Tallahassee on April 12, 1959, Norbert Allan Seals was the son of John Benjamin Seals and Grace Sands Seals. When he was 12, Seals moved with his family to Orlando, where he attended Trinity Preparatory School about 90 minutes away in Winter Haven. Seals took a bus at 5 a.m. on school days, riding with domestic workers from his African-American neighborhood. He would fondly recall how the women watched over him and made sure he got to school safely. Seals graduated from Trinity in 1977.
He majored in economics at Harvard University, graduating in 1981. Seals began his career as a political operative in Boston, working on presidential campaigns as candidates courted Massachusetts voters. He moved to Miami in 1989 with his then-wife, Angela Dix, and the two had a son a year later, Norbert Allan Seals Jr.
An early Seals client was Alex Penelas, then a young city council member from Hialeah who won a seat on what was then the Dade County Commission in 1990. Seals joined the Penelas commission staff, before heading back to the private sector to run his consulting firm, the Ptolemy Group.
“He really did a good job for me. He cared about people. He was really into their needs,” said Penelas, who served as mayor between 1996 and 2004 and is preparing to run for the office again.
As Seals shifted from County Hall to consulting and lobbying, Penelas said his former staffer didn’t flaunt the connection. “He didn’t show off,” Penelas said. “He called on you when he really needed you. He was not one of those people who always wanted to hang around and be seen.”
Seals married his wife, Sandra Martin Seals, on Aug. 24, 2003, in Martha’s Vineyard. They had a son, Martin Allen Seals, two years later.
Asked what her husband liked most about his career, Sandra Seals had a quick answer: “People. Meeting people, helping people. And he loved politics.”
A former president of Dade’s Young Democrats, Seals worked on campaigns at the county, state and national level, including successful White House runs by Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Lobbying clients in Miami-Dade included developers, airport vendors, transportation providers and Black Tech Week.
Seals is survived by his wife, two sons, his parents, sisters Cheryl Mobley Gonzalez, Pamela Nunnally and Donna Maye; brothers Clement Seals, Wilfred Miller Jr., and Alano Miller. His stepfather, Wilfred Stanley Miller, died in 2009.
A viewing will begin at noon on Saturday, June 29, at Antioch Baptist Church in Miami Gardens, followed by a 1 p.m. service.