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Tulsa's First Black District Fire Chief Dies

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Merle Stripling. [Tulsa Fire Department] Merle Stripling. [Tulsa Fire Department]
TULSA, Oklahoma -

One of the Tulsa Fire Department's first African American firefighters Merle Stripling, 83, died September 19, according to TFD.

Stripling joined the department in 1956 and served for 30 years. He retired in 1986, having served as the department's first African American District Fire Chief.

He is survived by his wife, Norma.

Fire department officials say Stripling was one of six African American Tulsa firefighters hired in March 1956.  The six were - Henry Collier, Milton Goodwin, Clifford Horn, Robert Shanks, Cletus Stephens and Merle Stripling.  Milton Goodwin worked with the department for only a short time. The remaining five served the Tulsa Fire Department to retirement, drew pensions and except for Norma, they and their spouses have now all passed.

Stripling's niece is currently a Tulsa firefighter.

Services for Merle Stripling will be Friday, September 27 at 11 a.m. at St. Monica Catholic Church at 633 East Marshall Place.   

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