WASHINGTON — Charles L. Gittens, who in 1956 became the first black Secret Service agent, has died. He was 82.
The McGuire Funeral Home in Washington confirmed that Gittens died July 27 in Maryland. A spokesman for the Secret Service confirmed that Gittens was the first black agent but said no further details would be immediately available.
According to an obituary in The Herald-Sun of Durham, N.C., Gittens joined the agency in 1956 and was assigned to the Charlotte, N.C., office. He also worked in the New York City office, investigating counterfeiting and bank fraud.
Fluent in Spanish, Gittens also worked in the San Juan, Puerto Rico, bureau and was assigned to the D.C. office in 1969.
He retired in 1979. He then worked for the Department of Justice, where he investigated war criminals who were living in the U.S.
Danny Spriggs, vice president of global security for The Associated Press who had been a Secret Service agent, called Gittens “just an outstanding guy.”
“He went out of his way to mentor and give counsel and advice to young African-Americans who were coming up, especially those like myself who were coming up through the ranks.
“The guy was always physically fit. He looked like he came out of the gym. His whole persona was one of professionalism: no nonsense guy.”