Funeral today: Retired firefighter part of history
By JOHN A. WINTERS
The funeral for the first African-American firefighter to retire from the Newnan Fire Department will be held today.
Leon “Pete” Reese, 56, died Monday at Piedmont Newnan Hospital. His funeral will be at 11 a.m. at St. Smyrna Baptist Church.
Members of the Newnan Fire Department will escort the body from Sellers-Smith Funeral Home to the church. The department also will display a large American flag in front of Station No. 1 on Jefferson Street in downtown Newnan.
“When I first started at the department, Pete was the lead firefighter on my shift,” said Newnan Fire Department Chief David Whitley. “He was one of the best to go into a burning house and get the job done... He was a comfort to have with you on a working fire. I will miss him.”
According to Reese’s obituary, “while walking the streets of Newnan, he and a friend decided on a dare to apply to be a fireman with the city of Newnan, and the rest is history.”
Reese, who was born Sept. 17, 1955, served as a firefighter for 32 years with the department.
He retired in 2009, giving him the honor of being the first African-American to retire from the department.
“He departed this life for eternal rest on Monday, June 11, 2012, on the basketball court, so befitting his passion for the sport he loved,” it is stated in his obituary.