Last of original black Columbia firefighters has died

December 13, 2012 

The last surviving member of a group of black men - the first African American firefighters to be hired by the Columbia Fire Department - died Thursday.

Abram Coles Jr., who worked for the fire department for 35 years before retiring at the rank of Captain in 1988, "was a good friend and mentor to me," Chief Aubrey Jenkins said in a news release. Coles was 87-years-old.

(Photos courtesy of the Columbia-Richland Fire Department)

May 19, 1953 photo from the Columbia Record newspaper. Photo of training exercise for the first eight African American firemen hired by the Columbia Fire Department. They were being trained to staff the new Harden Street fire station scheduled to open in June 1953.

Undated photo from the Columbia Fire Department. Abram Coles in on the bottom far right

July 20, 2011 photo of Abram Coles (left) and Fire Chief Aubrey Jenkins at Jenkins' Badge Pinning ceremony.

May 16, 1953 photo of then-fire equipment operator Abram Coles

Coles is survived by his wife Jacqueline, daughter D’Jaris Coles-White, four grandchildren and one great grandchild, the release said. Funeral arrangements are pending.

-- Rachael Myers Lowe

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