J. V. Smith, One of Dallas' First Black Firefighters, Dies at 69

It wasn't until seventh grade when Christina Smith found out her dad was a quiet historic figure in Dallas. She mentioned to her parents that her teacher had put out a call for "Questions of the Day" that her class would puzzle over at the beginning of each class period. J. V. Smith told his daughter he had a question she should suggest: Who was the first black man hired by the Dallas fire department? "I was like, 'What, who was it?'" Christina Smith recalled. "And he was like, 'Me!'" Smith, an Oak Leaf resident, was a humble man of few words, his daughters said. They remember thinking his role in Dallas history was the coolest. He was devoted to his work in the fire department, where he was hired as a mechanic in June 1969. He died Friday in Dallas after this third bout with leukemia, his family said. He was 69. A funeral service is set for 1 p.m. Thursday at the Cross of Christ Lutheran Church, 512 N. Cockrell Hill Road in DeSoto. He will be laid to rest immediately after at Laurel Land Memorial Park in Dallas. Shortly after Smith was hired at the fire department, he became a firefighter, his wife Cheryl Smith said, and then he became a second driver. He would often drive around the fire chief and operated the command van for particularly big fires, Cheryl Smith said.   Continue reading...

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