Editor’s note. Apologies for the belated notice, but we were just made aware of Connie’s passing.
One of the city’s first female firefighters, Constance Lou Austin, 67, passed away on Friday, October 21, 2022, after a long battle with cancer. She was a member of RFD from 1978 to 1985.
The funeral will be held at 2:00 pm on Tuesday, today, October 25, 2022, at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church, 10005 Lake Wheeler Road Fuquay-Varina. Interment will follow the service at Pleasant Grove Baptist Church Cemetery.
The city’s first female firefighters were hired in June 1978. Recruiting began in May, when the city conducted its first campaign targeted at women. Advertisements were printed in local newspapers, and flyers were sent to various agencies and institutions.
The city received 179 applications for thirty-six open positions, including from twenty-eight women. Two training academies were planned to start in July and September. Eight were hired for the July training academy: Constance L. Austin, Becky P. Jones, Janice K. Olive, N. Janet Parker, Sheila D. Sapp, Barbara J. Turner, Matilda A. White, and C. Pamela Williams.
Of the original eight, three retired with the department: Senior FF Tillie White in 1994, Captain/Deputy Fire Marshal Becky Jones in 2006, and Fire/Life Safety Educator Jan Parker in 2007.