LAURINBURG — Those who have held the post of Laurinburg police chief would agree that 17 years on the job constitutes a significant contribution to the city.
But when it came to Norman “N.W.” Quick, who died on Thursday at 84, his tenure as Laurinburg’s top cop — during which he is credited for modernizing the police department and instituting a new standard of professionalism — wasn’t the half of it.
“He’s devoted his life to law enforcement here in Laurinburg and he’s been a community project promoter ever since he’s been alive, I believe,” said Quick’s lifelong friend Bill Riggins, with whom he was a founding member of the Laurinburg Optimist Club.
“He was just the ultimate citizen of Laurinburg.”
The first to chair the indispensable Optimist fish fry and Christmas tree fundraisers, Quick was also instrumental in the inception of the organization’s Little League program. The club now presents the “Riggins-Quick Eagle Award” annually to a member with a lengthy record of faithful service.
Quick was a member of Laurinburg High School’s class of 1949, and served in the U.S. Army before returning to Laurinburg and joining the police force.
Robert Malloy, who succeeded Quick as police chief in 1989, was initially hired by him in 1969. Back then, Malloy said, a total of four officers worked each shift and Quick was in charge of the department’s three-man detective division.
“When I first was hired you didn’t even have to go to school to become a police officer: that’s how antiquated things were,” said Malloy. “He really moved the police department into a whole nother era when he became the police chief. Everything was sort of done manually, we typed all the reports on the typewriter, and N.W. was the one who brought us into the computer age.”
While on the police department, Quick served a term as president of the National FBI Academy’s North Carolina chapter.
Also during Quick’s tenure, police uniforms switched from gray to blue for sharper presentation, and Quick was a proponent of officers continuing their education to stay abreast of developments in law enforcement.
“He believed in professionalism: he believed in a police officer being neat, clean, your hat was a part of your uniform,” Malloy said. “He did not like you to get out of the car without being totally in uniform. He wanted you to look professional, act professional, and he made sure that you had everything you needed.”
In his off hours — and for 20 years after his retirement from the police force — Quick devoted himself to the cause of youth athletics, both with the Optimist Club and as a Scotland County Parks and Recreation football coach.
“He coached with us for 50 years, put in a lot of volunteer hours,” said athletic superintendent Al Blades. “He was an icon to Parks and Rec.”
Quick’s team of 11- and 12-year olds was dubbed the Redskins, after the NFL team that held a prominent place in his heart. Many of his players went on to be valuable members of the Scotland High School football team.
In 2011, Quick was one of 20 in North Carolina to receive the Governor’s Volunteer Service Medallion Award, for the countless hours he spent coaching and assisting on every level — even registering children at the start of each new season.
“I wanted to be involved with the youth in our community, hoping to touch their lives and direct them in the right way, not only how to deal with sports but how to deal with life,” Quick was quoted in 2011. “In sports, it’s like winning and losing. Life is the same way. It’s not always roses.”
Also a volunteer coach, Laurinburg police chief Darwin Williams said that the benefits of Quick’s guidance extended beyond those under 18.
“My first year with Parks and Rec was a learning experience and he showed us how to interact with the kids, how to get to their level and get the best out of them,” Williams said.
“He was a mentor to a lot of kids that weren’t his own. That says a lot in this day in age to find a man giving his time to make someone else’s child a better person. That’s what he was about.”
Choked with emotion on Thursday afternoon, Riggins recalled Quick as a man who was in his element when acting in the best interests of others.
“If there was something that could help Laurinburg or help somebody, N.W. was there. That’s just the kind of person he was. You don’t meet many people like that in your lifetime.”
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.