Mississippi City Mourns Former Chief

May 7, 2008
He was the city's first black fire chief.

JACKSON, Miss. --

The city's first black fire chief, Joseph Graham, passed away Tuesday.

Family members say the 68-year-old died of a stroke or aneurysm shortly after a traffic accident over the weekend.

Graham joined the department as the first African-American firefighter in Jackson and worked his way up to chief. He became chief in 1996 after a firehouse shooting that claimed the lives of four top fire officials.

Current Chief Vernon Hughes reflected on the kind of man Graham was.

"Chief Graham was more than just the chief. He opened his arms in a fatherly way, whereas he showed me a lot of the things with me growing up in becoming the person I am."

Funeral arrangements for Graham have not been finalized.

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