Ray Flowers, who was the first Black chief of the Greensboro fire department, has died.

Flowers joined the department as a 21-year-old graduate of North Carolina A&T State University. He was assigned to station four on Gorrell Street as part of the first group of Black firefighters hired by the department in 1961.

From there, he began a long journey to the top, earning the ranks of captain, battalion chief, and deputy chief. In 1993, Flowers earned the position of chief, becoming the first Black firefighter to lead the Greensboro Fire Department. 

He retired after working almost four decades with the department.

Last year, the city honored Flowers by naming Fire Station 7, where he had been a driver, after him.

City officials say Flowers died Saturday after a brief illness. He was 83.

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