January 25, 2022, 85, Goldsboro –
Willard Ray Herring, Sr. responded to the call of his Lord to come home on Tuesday, January 25, 2022 while at his home surrounded by his family. Willard was born in Wayne County on July 18, 1936 to the late Robert Stephen Herring and Alma Jane Westbrook Herring. In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a sister, Carolyn Vinson. He married the love of his life, Virginia Lowder Herring, on September 30, 1956.
Beginning his career with the Goldsboro Fire Department in 1959, he quickly showed his dedication to the department and his skill as a leader. On January 9, 1969, he was selected to lead the department as Fire Chief, the youngest Fire Chief ever hired by the department. During his tenure, he changed the trajectory of the department by improving the safety, response time, and work environment for his fellow servicemen. In his first year as chief, he was able to bring new equipment to update the department. 1970 saw the development of training grounds, and he followed up in 1974 by changing the organization of the department by replacing the 2 shift work schedule with three shifts. Retiring after serving 38 years in the department and 28 years as Chief, Chief Herring was the longest-serving Fire Chief for the City of Goldsboro.
Chief Herring’s service went beyond his role in the community, as he faithfully served with the North Carolina Fireman’s Association and the North Carolina Retired Fireman’s Association. Responding to natural disasters and other matters of urgency, he proudly served in the North Carolina National Guard for 10 years. As a member of New Hope Friends Church, he worshiped with this congregation for many years.
Chief Herring’s life was dedicated to service to others, devotion to his God, and love and protection for his family.
The family will receive friends on Friday, January 28, 2022 from 6:00 – 8:00 p.m. at Seymour Funeral Home and other times at his home. A service to celebrate Chief Herring’s service to the City of Goldsboro will be held at 1:00 p.m. on Saturday, January 29, 2022, at The First Church, 1100 The First Church Road, Goldsboro. Fellow firemen, John Morton and Anthony Slater, will preside. Interment with fireman honors will follow in Wayne Memorial Park.
Willard is survived by his wife 65 years, Virginia Lowder Herring; son, Willard Ray Herring, Jr. and wife, Edna; daughter, Sharon Dawn Herring; grandson, Justin Dargan Herring; brothers, Robert Herring and wife Ann and Steve Herring and wife Renee; and sisters, Joyce Godwin and husband, Palmer and Jane Jones and husband, David. He is also survived by several nieces and nephews he loved very much.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests memorials be given to the restoration of the antique fire truck, the Goldsboro Fire Department 1919 Fund, in the care of the Goldsboro Fire Department, 204 S. Center Street, Goldsboro, NC 27530.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.seymourfuneralhome.com.