Frank Gilliam, who as a Vikings employee from 1970 to 2007 helped build many of the best teams in franchise history, died Sunday at age 89, the team said.

Gilliam was one of the first Black scouts in NFL history, hired as scouting director in 1970 by Jerry Reichow, then the Vikings director of player personnel. The two were friends and teammates at Iowa, and Reichow, a Vikings wide receiver from 1961 to '64, made Gilliam the first person he hired with the Vikings.

"Jerry and I knew each other since we were 18," Gilliam told the Star Tribune in 2007. "He had called me a year before, asking if I was interested in a scouting job. I was coaching at Iowa, and after we all got fired, he gave me another call. I came to visit. It was kind of a natural, because I played for Bud [Grant in the Canadian Football League], I played with Jerry and I played against [Vikings GM] Jim Finks. They got me up there to talk, and it was like old home week. It turned out to be a very good marriage."

Reichow told the Vikings website: "Frank was a great guy and a really good scout. He had grown up in football and really studied it. I don't think we ever had an argument in all those years working together because I think we complemented each other with how we did things. From the start, we hit it off really well."

Gilliam later became Vikings director of player personnel. He parted ways with the team in 2007 at age 73 as Rick Spielman took control of the front office.

"Not bitter," Gilliam told the Star Tribune at the time. "I can't say I'm all that disappointed. I thought we could come up with something that we both could live with. But it didn't happen, and I had some good moments up there in my 36 years with that team."

Gilliam was part of a Steubenville, Ohio, connection that arrived at Iowa in the mid-1950s. He came to the Hawkeyes along with close friends Calvin Jones and Eddie Vincent in the fall of 1952.

Jones became the 1955 Outland Trophy winner as a tackle, the first Black player to win the award. Gilliam was an All-America end and Vincent a star halfback. Jones was killed in a plane crash as a CFL rookie in 1956, an event that could still hit hard at Gilliam when he talked about losing "Cal" decades later.

Last July, the Vikings launched the Gilliam-Reichow Personnel Fellowship, creating opportunities for aspiring personnel and scouting executives to learn more about how to develop an NFL roster. Former Vikings running back Doug Chapman was one of three participants in the fellowship last year.

"Rest well Frank," Chapman wrote on Twitter, adding that his alma mater, Marshall, had Gilliam to thank for drafting Chapman, Carl Lee and Randy Moss to the Vikings.