Death – North Carolina’s first black firefighter dies 2021

Death – Obituary

Willie “Chick” Carter was one out of eight black men who integrated the Winston-Salem fire company housed on Dunleith Avenue.

WINSTON-SALEM, N.C. — Legendary firefighter Willie “Chick” Carter, one of the first black firefighters to integrate the Winston-Salem Fire Department, has passed away.

The WSFD tweeted as they mourned the loss of their fellow retired firefighter. He was a part of the original eight black men hired in North Carolina’s first integrated firehouse E-4.

WSFD recognized Carter during a Black History Month Celebration in 2020. He courageously served with honor for 35 years, according to the WSFD.

On March 1. 1951, Winston-Salem hired and formed the first integrated fire company in the city and the state of North Carolina on Dunleith Avenue. The eight firefighters were Raphael Black, John Thomas, Lester Ervin, John Henry Ford, Robert Grier, John Meredith, George Penn, and Willie Carter. By 1967, the fire department was fully merged, as mentioned by the city of Winston-Salem Fire Department website. 

On March 1. 2021, WSFD celebrated and released a video in remembrance of the eight men who shared meals, prayed, and lived together. At the time, everyone did not agree with merging the men into the fire company, but many of the eight men were WWII veterans who proved themselves more than capable of serving as rescuers.

During the celebration earlier this year, WSFD created a street sign labeled, Honorary “First Eight” Avenue and placed it near the old station to commemorate their courageousness. Citizens applauded Carter as he was in attendance and surrounded by so much love.

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What Is An Obituary

In national newspapers an obituary (obit for short) is a news article that reports the recent death of a prominent person. Although it tends to focus on positive aspects of the subject’s life this is not always the case. According to Nigel Farndale, the Obituaries Editor of The Times: “Obits should be life affirming rather than gloomy, but they should also be opinionated, leaving the reader with a strong sense of whether the subject lived a good life or bad; whether they were right or wrong in the handling of their public affairs.”

In local newspapers, an obituary may be published for any local resident upon death. A necrology is a register or list of records of the deaths of people related to a particular organization, group or field, which may only contain the sparsest details, or small obituaries. Historical necrologies can be important sources of information.