Norman G. Whitener began his career with Hickory Fire Department on July 1, 1955, and retired November 1, 1980. He worked very hard in all aspects of the job. He received many certificates of training, including Standard First Aid, Elevator Evacuation, Airport Crash, and Search and Rescue. He earned his way through the ranks and was promoted to captain on January 1, 1972. In speaking with firemen that worked with him, they would say he was a hard trainer, but when you met his expectations, he would become your best buddy.
Norman was a devoted husband and father. He was married to his wife, Doris, for 29 years before his death. They met at a skating rink after his discharge from the Army. They were married and had three children. He loved to play baseball and fish. He coached both his sons in baseball. He especially enjoyed introducing kids to fishing.
On February 7, 1979, while fighting a two-alarm fire at Quail Run Apartments, Captain Whitener suffered a heart attack. He continued to suffer symptoms and had another heart attack in April of 1980. The resulting injury caused cardiac damage, which contributed to a heart attack on June 16, 1984. He later died on July 1, 1984, exactly 29 years after beginning his career at the Hickory Fire Department. He was 51 years old.
Captain Whitener was physically fit, and his heart attack was a shock to the department. His chief became concerned about health and fitness of other firefighters. This led to the chief establishing an ongoing department health and fitness program in conjunction with a local medical center.
Norman was an outstanding firefighter, husband, and father. He was loved by so many, including many nieces and nephews. He is missed every day.