Luther Norman Crocker passed away peacefully on June 2, 2023 in Fishers, Indiana. He was born on January 5, 1932 in South Bend, Indiana to the late Luther Allen and Britannia (Solbrig) Crocker.
Norman, as he was known, married Bonnie (Pavey) on June 8, 1957 in Mishawaka, IN. Together, they had two children, Norma Ann and Phillip Eugene. They were blessed with six grandchildren, Mary Ann (Jimmie) Cisners, Jennie (Mike) Myers, Scott (April) Cunningham, Tanya Torres, Gregory (Marianne), and Kenneth (Kate); six great-grandchildren, sister, Irene Stiens; sister-in-law, Susan Corsairs; and brother-in-law, Richard Pavey.
Norman’s mother, Britannia passed away when he was just two years old. His father then married the late, Gertrude (Zehring). He was also preceded in death by a granddaughter, Michelle; sister, Marilyn; brother, Mark; and brothers-in-law, Arkie and Russ.
Norman served in the United States Navy from 1951-1953 receiving an honorable discharge.
Norman joined the Middlebury Fire Department in 1958, and then moved to Mishawaka in 1959 and joined the newly established Harris Township Fire Department in 1960. Because of his previous fire department experience, he was appointed Training Officer with Harris Township Fire Dept in 1961. This proved to be a turning point in Norman’s life as he found his life’s mission, to educate firefighters. He soon realized how much knowledge he would need to lead his firefighters. He attended any available fire schools, which were few back then, and received much needed help from the “Red Books”, authored by Oklahoma University.
In January 1966, Norman was elected Assistant Chief, but his love for the fire service was ultimately in education. He continued with assisting the training officer at Harris Township as well as other departments in other counties. In June of that same year, he was elected District Chairman of the 4th district of the Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association (IVFA), which represented departments in Elkhart and St. Joseph counties.
Norman was elected Chairman of the Board of the IVFA in 1975. In 1978, he was honored by being named Mr. I.V.F.A, which was the IVFA firefighter of the year for the State of Indiana, and in 1979 he was elected President of the IVFA, representing 18,000 plus volunteer firefighters in the State of Indiana.
With the assistance of IVFA Vice President Parker, Norman was proactive in addressing issues at the state level. One item being the frozen tax levy. The State Government would not allow increases in taxes even if they were at a lower tax rate than allowed by law. This burdened many departments who were experiencing increase in costs. After addressing this issue with the State Legislature, they had enough support to repeal the frozen levy. This was a big victory for the Indiana fire service.
In 1974 Norman started recruiting kids from the local high schools and created a junior firefighter program. This became very successful by adding 10 Jr. Firefighters, many of whom joined the department when they turned 21.
In April of 1981, he accepted a position with the Indiana State Fire Marshall’s Office with the Education Division. He served there until resigning in December of 1986 to become Fire Chief of Harris Township.
In 1982, Norman was appointed as delegate to the National Volunteer Fire Council and served in that capacity until 1986.
Together with Chief Robert Lindzy of Clay Township, they started Indiana state certification classes that began in the fall and ended in the spring. The final exam consisted of live burn exercises, which continued for many years.
Norman was appointed by Governor Bowen in 1972 to the Commission of Education and Standards Board where he served until 1992. During this time, members wrote the first lesson plans for basic firefighter certification.
In July 1987, Governor Orr named Norman a Distinguished Hoosier.
In 1990, Norman was elected President of the St. Joseph County Firefighters Association and served until 1998. Within this time the county continued to grow, which created many challenges for the local fire departments. As a result, Norman authored a mutual aid agreement that was successfully signed by all of the administrators and Fire Chiefs of St. Joseph County.
The Granger Business Association selected Norman to be the 1st Mayor for a day as part of Harris Township days in 1992.
In June of 2000, Norman retired from Harris Township. At his retirement dinner, Indiana State Fire Marshall Nevil presented him with Indiana’s Meritorious Service Award.
After his retirement, Bonnie and Norman spent their winters in Florida, waiting for April 15th when the campground opened so they could spend their summers at their travel trailer in Ludington, MI fishing and living the good life. The highlight of those summers was when son, Phillip and grandson’s, Greg and Ken would bring their family and friends.
In 2016 Norman was selected to be a torchbearer as part of the Indiana bicentennial celebration.
A Celebration of Life Memorial Service will take place on Saturday, July 22, 2023 at 3:30 p.m. with visitation beginning at 1 p.m., at the McGann Hay, Granger Chapel, 13260 SR 23, enter off Cherry Rd.