Pastor has fatal heart attack while giving church sermon - - Tyler, Longview, Jacksonville |ETX News

Pastor has fatal heart attack while giving church sermon

Pastor Jesse Graham. Pastor Jesse Graham.

MYRTLE GROVE, NC (WECT) – A longtime community leader from Columbus County passed away Sunday afternoon while giving a sermon in Wilmington.

According to family members, Pastor Jessie Graham had a massive heart attack in the pulpit of Myrtle Grove First Born Church of the Living God Sunday.  He was 78 years old.

Anyone who knew Graham would tell you he's a man who loved God.  They say it's only fitting he died doing what he loved, in the church that he loved.

"Oh my goodness, that was his whole life," said Graham's son, BW Graham.  "He seldom took a vacation, where he didn't attend church for the most part."

BW Graham said he was singing a hymn on the choir when he noticed his father's rhythm was a little off.

"Preachers have a cadence and a rhythm with what they're doing," explained BW Graham.  "When he lost his rhythm, I was listening, and waiting for him to catch up, but he didn't. He was silent."

Graham's son said they did CPR on Pastor Jessie and managed to bring him back for a few breaths, but he couldn't hold on.

Graham was the first black union president at International Paper in the 60s and once oversaw the Columbus County Board of Elections.  He has served on several boards in the county and has a plaque dedicated to him at the Bolton Senior Center.

Family members are still planning Pastor Graham's funeral.  Stay with WECT and for details of those arrangements when they are finalized.

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