Two officials offered messages of thanks and condolences Wednesday over the recent death of Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham.
Interim Chief Mike Balken wrote a message on the police department’s Facebook page thanking area residents for the “outpouring of love” following Graham’s death Sunday in a single-engine plane crash near Dunnellon.
“While our agency is reeling from Chief Graham’s passing, our men and women are comforted by the notes, messages, flowers, meals and prayers that have been offered up by so, so many of you,” Balken wrote. “This is a true testament to Chief Graham’s legacy and the close community relationship that he was so very proud of. Although it would be impossible for me to thank each of you personally, please know that your kindness, love and support are not going unnoticed.”
Kathy Bryant, who serves as chairman of the Marion County Commission, also offered thoughts on Graham’s tragic death.
“This community, and everyone who resides here, lost a truly dedicated servant and leader,” she said. “A beautiful family is left heartbroken, having lost a loving husband and father. Everyone who had the pleasure to know Greg lost a man they genuinely called ‘friend.’ I personally lost a dear friend of many, many years.
Bryant called Graham’s work as police chief a “gift to us all.”
“His dedication to those he served was unsurpassed,” she said. “And the love he had for this community was immeasurable.”
Bryant said Graham’s legacy won’t ever be forgotten, labeling it as a “thread he has sewn into every person” he helped, taught and served.
“That thread will forever tie his memory to our hearts,” she said. “Marion County residents are family, and we all lost a vital and respected member of that family.”
Graham will be laid to rest Friday following a service at the First Baptist Church of Ocala that’s expected to draw at least 2,000 law enforcement officers. There will be outdoor seating in the baseball field area of the church and the service will be broadcast onto a large screen.
The live stream of the service also will be shown on the Ocala Police Department’s website and via social media for those who want to watch from home. Click HERE for the police department’s website and HERE for its Facebook page.