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Retired Gainesville Fire Chief A.B. Sailors dies at 83
AB Sailors
A.B. Sailors

Whether he was called “Old Dad” or “The Storyteller,” A.B. Sailors was a mainstay of the Gainesville Fire Department.

“He’s just one of those characters that people like being around,” Gainesville Fire Chief Jerome Yarbrough said.

Sailors, a 34-year veteran of the department who served as fire chief in 1991, died Monday at the age of 83. He served as captain of the department for 18 years, according to his obituary.

Sailors served two years in the Army, according to his obituary.

“He spent (21) months in West Berlin, where he was a medic,” according to his obituary. “During that time in West Berlin, he witnessed the construction of the Berlin Wall.”

To Donny Poole and others on A.B.’s shift, Sailors was “Old Dad” as the captain became “like a father to a lot of us.”

“A lot of guys would testify if it wasn’t for Capt. Sailors, we wouldn’t be here,” Yarbrough said.

When battling a fire, Poole said firefighters want to work with somebody on whom you can depend.

“In 10 years, I never knew the man to come in upset or mad or have a chip on his shoulder,” he said.

Sailors became chief in 1991 before retiring in the same year. David Chapman would replace him as chief.

“A.B. was a good one. He looked after his men. As long as the men were right, A.B. fought for him,” Poole said.

For Yarbrough, the retired chief was ‘The Storyteller” with his deep knowledge of the city.

“He had numerous stories of things that happened over the years,” he said. “He‘s just one individual that worked here that had a lot of knowledge about the fire department and the city of Gainesville.”

Funeral services will be held at 1 p.m. Thursday at the Chapel of Memorial Park North Riverside. The Rev. Chris Swan and Jon Canada will be officiating.