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Retired Greensboro Fire Department Chief Flowers passes

Instead of cutting a ribbon, retired Greensboro Fire Chief Ray Flowers (second from left) and Fire Chief Jim Robinson(fourth from left) separate a fire hose during the opening of the new eastside ladder company station (#7) in honor of Flowers on December 20, 2021. L-R: Greensboro City Council person Yvonne Johnson, Ray Flowers, Guilford Co. Commissioner Melvin “Skip” Alston, Greensboro Fire Chief Jim Robinson, City Council person Sharon Hightower and Guilford Co. Commissioner Alan Perdue.
Photo by Ivan Saul Cutler/Carolina Peacemaker.

Ray Kermit Flowers, son of the late James Vernel Flowers and Mattie Tillman Flowers, was born in Wadesboro, N.C. on March 25, 1939. He entered into eternal rest on July 16, 2022.

Flowers graduated from Anson County Training School in 1957 where he excelled as a student, athlete, and class leader. He graduated from what is now North Carolina Agricultural and State University in 1960 with a degree in Electrical Technology and married his wife of 58 years, Martha Tatum Flowers in the same year. To this union one daughter, Saundra Flowers DeLauder, and one son, Hugh DaVinci Flowers, was born.

He joined the Greensboro Fire Department in 1961 as a member of the first class of African American firefighters and rendered more than 37 years of service to the Department before retiring in 1999. During his tenure, he served in several leadership capacities; achieving the rank of Captain in 1975, Battalion Chief in 1979, Deputy Chief in 1988, and Fire Chief in 1993; becoming the first African American to achieve this distinction in the history of the organization. Under his leadership as Fire Chief, the department became only one of seven fire departments in the world, accredited through the Commission on Fire Accreditation International Department worldwide, to attain international accreditation and maintain an Insurance Service Office (ISO) Class I rating. His service to the Greensboro Fire Department was recognized in December 2021 with a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony of Fire Station 7 that now bears his name.

The late Ray Flowers
During his youth, Flowers joined Gatewood Station AME Zion Church, located in Morven, N.C. He later joined Reid Memorial CME Church and Bethel AME Church, both in Greensboro, N.C. As a member at Bethel, Ray quickly became involved in the activities and programs of the church serving on the Steward Board, the church choir, the Public Safety Committee, the Public Relations Commission, Church Bible Study, Sunday School and Drama Ministry. Bethel recognized his service in 2019 as Man of the Year.

Flowers spent more than 40 years in the Masonic Order serving in the following capacities: Morning Star Lodge #691 - Past Master; Morning Star Chapter #591 - Past Worthy Patron, Past Admin Council Patron; R.L. Seibels Chapter #79 - Holy Royal Arch Companion; Hiram of Tyre Council #1 - Royal and Select Masters Illustrious Companion; E.R. Hopkins Commandery #15 - Knights Templar Past Eminent Commander; Greensboro Consistory #106 AASR - 32nd Sublime Prince; and Khalif Temple #144 AEAONMS Inc. - Past Potentate.

In addition to his parents, Flowers was preceded in death by his two brothers James W. Flowers and Vernel L. Flowers.

Those left to cherish his memory are his daughter, Saundra Flowers DeLauder (William Jr.) and son, Hugh Da Vince Flowers (Angela); three grandchildren, Taft Flowers (Keyona), Rachel DeLauder, Thomas Flowers, one great-grandson (Taft Jr.), three brothers, Walter Flowers (Mariea), Raymond Flowers (Carolyn), Melba McMillan (Charles), eight sisters-in-law ; Carolyn Flowers, Joanne Flowers, Lois Graham, Virgia Tatum, Doris Barnard (Kenneth), Diana Johnson (Ronald), Demetra Jefferies, Ramona James (Rick), One brother-in-law, Harry Tatum Jr. and a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

In lieu of flowers please donate funds to the Louise Craig Scholarship Fund of Bethel AME Church, in memory of Ray K. Flowers. Funds are designated for first year college students that are members of Bethel AME Church.

A public viewing will be held on Thursday, July 21, 2022 in Hargett Funeral Service, Inc., 905 E. Market Street, Greensboro from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.

A home-going celebration will be held on Friday, July 22, 2022 in Bethel AME Church, 200 N Regan St.; Greensboro at 12 p.m. Interment will follow in Lakeview Memorial Park.