GREENSBORO, N.C. (WGHP) —The homegoing celebration for Greensboro Fire Chief Ray Flowers took place on Friday afternoon.

The homegoing was attended by several members of the Greensboro Fire Department as well as friends and loved ones of the Flowers family.

Chief Flowers was the first-ever African-American Greensboro Fire Chief and faithfully served the city for over 37 years.

Chief Flowers first joined the GFD in 1961 after graduating from NC A&T. He was a part of the first group of African-American firefighters ever hired to the GFD and started his career at Station 4 on Gorrell Street.

“He was a leader…if we needed advice, he gave it,” Kenny Flowers, Ray’s cousin said.

He was a leader to his family at home and his family at the firehouse.

“Ray was an engaging person. He was fun-loving and fun to be around. He had that great smile that would light up a room,” Kenny said.

After serving for 14 years, Chief Flowers earned the rank of captain in 1975. He would only hold that title for four years as he was named Batallion Chief in 1979.

Chief Flowers continued his meteoric rise up the ranks earning the rank of Deputy Chief in 1988 before finally rising to Fire Chief in 1993.

“He was such a humble person. He wouldn’t tell that story loudly. To hear other people tell it for him made it…special,” Kenny said.

In his youth, Chief Flowers was a driver for Station 7. Fire Station 7 would go on to be dedicated to Chief Flowers’ legacy in December 2021. He was able to attend the event and received the honor surrounded by family and friends.

Current Fire Chief Jim Robinson said Chief Flowers “represents everything that is right with public safety and the Greensboro Fire Department.”

His family is proud that the man they revere has such a big impact on the lives of others.

“His legacy would be the impact that he has had on us. I appreciate that. As a young man growing up, Ray had a huge impact on my life. I will miss him dearly,” Kenny said.

The Professional Firefighters of Greensboro posted a tribute to Chief Flowers on Facebook saying in part:

“The Professional Fire Fighters of Greensboro are saddened at the loss of former Greensboro Fire Chief Ray Flowers. Chief Flowers was a trailblazer for African Americans in the fire service.”

Near the end of the homegoing celebration, a bell was rung by members of the GFD, signifying the end of Flowers’ many years of service to the community.

“To one who selflessly dedicated his life to serving others, his tasks are completed, his duties are done, we sound the bell, to our Fire Chief, Ray Kermit Flowers, his last alarm, he’s going home.”