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Ocala celebrates the life of police chief killed in plane crash

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Ocala's interim police chief, Mike Balkin, presents a U.S. flag to the widow of Police Chief Greg Graham in from of the First Baptist Church of Ocala after the chief's funeral on Friday. Photo: Joe Byrnes

Ocala said goodbye to its police chief Friday in a funeral service marked by pageantry, bitter-sweet humor and high praise from Florida’s attorney general.

Ocala Police Chief Greg Graham. Photo: OPD

Hundreds celebrated the life of 58-year-old Greg Graham, who died in a plane crash on Sunday.

During the service at First Baptist Church of Ocala, Graham was remembered as a cop’s cop, devoted dad, wisecracking friend, smitten husband and leader who welcomed calls from people in crisis.

Speakers listed his five rules: Do the right thing. Ask forgiveness, not permission. Find ways to say yes. Treat everyone with respect. And have fun.

Ashley Moody, looking at a sea of uniforms, spoke of the bond among law enforcement and Graham’s love for Ocala.

Ocala’s police officers and civilian workers, along with family, friends and other law enforcement officers, stand by as the casket of Police Chief Greg Graham is carried to hearse in front of the First Baptist Church of Ocala on Friday. Photo: Joe Byrnes

“I feel fortunate as the attorney general that I got to work with him on some really key issues relating to the opioid epidemic,” she said. “And leave this room, this sanctuary, with no doubt that his life will have saved lives.”

Then, outside the church, there was a flag presentation, a flyover and a final call.

“10-97, A-1,” the dispatcher said. “Take your rest. We have the watch from here.”

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Joe Byrnes

About Joe Byrnes


Joe Byrnes came to WMFE/WMFV from the Ocala Star-Banner and The Gainesville Sun, where he worked as a reporter and editor for several years. Joe graduated from Loyola University in New Orleans and turned to journalism after teaching. He enjoys freshwater fishing and family gatherings.