Norm Bangerter was born and reared in Granger. His father was a contractor, and Bangerter and his brothers learned the carpenter's trade as soon as they were old enough to hold a hammer.

After graduating from Cyprus High School, Bangerter married his high school sweetheart, Colleen. Within months, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served in the Korean War. After returning he attended the University of Utah and Brigham Young University off and on but never earned a degree.He started working as an independent carpenter after his discharge from the Army and by the mid-1960s had a successful contracting company.

In the shadow of the Watergate scandal, Republicans had a difficult time recruiting candidates for the Legislature. Bangerter, always interested in politics, watched the filings, and on the final filing day in 1974 no Republican had filed in his state House district. So he filed, ran an uphill campaign and won, becoming one of the few freshman Republicans that year.

After two terms he ran for and won a leadership post and continued moving through the ranks until he was elected speaker. He served two terms as speaker and then ran for governor in 1984.