Chief Graham laid to rest

Hundreds of mourners turned out Friday for the funeral of former Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham, who died last Sunday in a plane crash east of Dunnellon.

Marion County Sheriff’s Office deputies covered the city’s police calls during the nearly two-hour service held at First Baptist Church of Ocala.

Those who spoke at the service included Graham’s three children – Tyler, Mark and Kalin – as well as Ocala Mayor Kent Guinn, Florida Attorney General Ashley Moody and Graham’s close friend Pat Gilligan.

Amy Graham receives a folder American flag from Interim Police Chief Mike Balkan as members of the Graham family look on during the funeral for Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham at the First Baptist Church in Ocala on Friday. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2020.
Kalin Graham brought chuckles from the audience of Graham’s friends and co-workers when she said, “For those who knew my dad, he was a goofball.”

Guinn said his decision to hire Graham as police chief, after Graham had left Florida to become chief in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, “was the best decision I ever made as mayor.”

During his remarks, Guinn announced the Marion County Hospital District board had voted to honor Graham for his high-profile work on reducing opioid addiction in the community by naming part of the new Beacon Point mental health facility “The Greg Graham Recovery Center.” As chief, Graham initiated the city’s opioid amnesty program about three years ago, which allows anyone with an opioid addiction problem to contact any police offer to ask for treatment and to receive it, no questions asked.

Officers salute during the funeral for Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham at the First Baptist Church in Ocala on Friday. [Bruce Ackerman/Ocala Gazette] 2020.
When Graham was interviewed about the amnesty program two months ago, he said more than 300 people had gone through the program. Of the more than 300 people who have entered the program, the chief said 78 percent had finished, and of that 78 percent, 57 percent are still clean.

Pat Gilligan, Graham’s longtime friend, gave the eulogy, and Pastor Mark Cummings of Church of Hope presided.

“You’ve heard and you’ve seen a life well lived,” Cummings said about Graham.


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