Community helps Fort Dobbs Hardware founder celebrate milestone

Posted at 10:52 PM on Aug 18, 2019

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BY BRANDY TEMPLETON

Wilson White, founder of Fort Dobbs Hardware, celebrated his 90th birthday with friends and family at his store over the weekend.

Crowds of people came out to wish him a happy birthday on Saturday.

Norma Sue, Wilson’s wife, was thrilled with the turnout.

“He’s always been a person that people have nice things to say about,” she said. “He’s made plenty of friends over the years.”

Norma Sue explained how Wilson has devoted his life to serving and helping others.

Born on August 17, 1929, he served in the U.S. Army during the Korean War after marrying Norma Sue in 1951.

“The Army caught his name in the paper we think,” Norma Sue laughed as she said how hard it was being a “single” newlywed.

After serving 17 months, Wilson came home and started a family with Norma Sue, having three children, Mary-Todd, Mark, and Abby.

He worked for Southern Bell Telephone Company for many years, starting out as a lineman and working his way up to having his own office and a company car.

While doing his best to take care of his family, he served 12 years on the Iredell County school board as their chairman and 20 years on the Iredell County water board. He was an active member of the Lion’s Club and has served his church, Hebron Baptist, since he was 14 years old.

Wilson built his first store in 1984 and the current Fort Dobbs Hardware in 1986.

Until recently, he came into his store everyday to participate in the daily business.

Norma Sue said he always took the time with customers, making sure they were knowledgeable and satisfied before they left.

“He’s always been very dedicated to anything he undertakes. He’s a strong Christian and honest as the day’s long,” she said. “He cares about everybody.”

Customers and friends left cards also describing Wilson as “welcoming,” “giving,” and “good.”

Family friend Kathy Brown met Wilson in the 1990s.

“I think he’s a wonderful man,” she said. “They don’t make them like that no more — a good ‘ol, down -home, old-school man who’s as sweet as he can be.”

Wilson himself was quiet and humbled by the number of people who stopped by to thank him for his friendship and service to the community.

Now he has five grandchildren and two great-grandchildren who may carry on his legacy of hard work and kindness.

As for Wilson, he has words of advice for anyone.

“Look and see, life is gone by before you know it,” he said. “You can look and think and pray, but life is so short — so you just need to try and be happy.”

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