Norman still the heart of Veterans Memorial Center


Raymond Norman, 84, is a volunteer at the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center and Museum

Courtesy of Donn Weaver

Donn Weaver, the chairman of the Brevard Veterans’ Council, refers to Raymond Norman as “a rock of leadership and legacy” for the past two decades of the history of the Brevard Veterans Memorial Center and Museum.

“His imagination, energy and determination to make the center better has been a source of inspiration for many members and many in the community who support veterans and the center,” said Weaver, who should know all about Norman, since he is president of the center and museum.

Ray still enthusiastically volunteers for the center, bringing new ideas and concepts without a sign of slowing down. During his tenure with the center, Norman has served as president, vice president, secretary, chairman, vice chairman and docent. The years have not diminished his interest, either. Now 84, the Merritt Island resident has turned to yet another type of volunteer service.

“I’m now learning to work in the store at the center,” he said.

Norman is grateful for his own time in military service, because the Naval Air Reserve served this Birmingham, Alabama native well.

“I wanted to see the world and go to college,” he explained.

Uncle Sam gave him travel opportunities and also helped Norman foot the bill for a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering, which he earned in 1957. Norman would eventually expand his military horizons from the Naval Reserve to the Army National Guard.

In his second career as an engineer, Norman worked for Pan American, first in St. Petersburg and then at Cape Canaveral Air Force Station.

“Along the way, I picked up a wife and a couple of kids,” he said.

He lost his “forever girl,” Faith, four years ago.

“We were married 56 years, three months, 20 days and 38 minutes,” he said.

He worked for NASA for 33 years, remaining with the Army for many of those years.

“I would put in 2,000 hours a year with NASA and 1,000 with the Army,” he said.

Retirement from NASA and the military did not mean the end of his working career. Norman became involved with Space Coast Sports Promotions, which orchestrated golf tournaments aimed primarily at military personnel. Bringing the military to play golf in Brevard was gold for the Space Coast.

“We generated quite a bit of money for the area,” Norman said.

The job also gave him an edge in the game, including three holes-in-one.

Golf is on the back burner now, but the Veterans Memorial Center will always be up front for Norman.

“We have a world class facility,” he said.