For­mer coun­cilor Gra­ham dies at 71

Fought for HIV ad­vo­cacy

The Washington Times Daily - - METRO - BY EMMA AY­ERS

Jim Gra­ham, the sec­ond openly gay mem­ber of the D.C. Coun­cil who rep­re­sented Ward 1 and ad­vo­cated for gay rights, died Sun­day of in­testi­nal in­fec­tion com­pli­ca­tions at Ge­orge Wash­ing­ton Univer­sity Hos­pi­tal. He was 71.

The coun­cil an­nounced his death Thurs­day via a tweet, and said in­for­ma­tion about ser­vices will be re­leased to the pub­lic as it be­comes known.

“Our hearts go out to all who, like us, knew & loved him,” read a sub­se­quent post­ing from the coun­cil.

Born in Scot­land and raised in the United States, Mr. Gra­ham re­ceived de­grees from Michi­gan State, Univer­sity of Michi­gan Law School and Ge­orge­town Univer­sity Law School. He was first elected to the D.C. Coun­cil in 1998 and served four terms as a Ward 1 Demo­crat.

Ac­cord­ing to a for­mer col­league, coun­cil mem­ber Jack Evans of Ward 2, Mr. Gra­ham was “al­ways on the fore­front of gay rights and those in need.”

He first joined the Dis­trict’s Whit­manWalker Clinic in 1979, and his pas­sion to help those af­flicted with HIV led him to take charge of the strug­gling clinic as ex­ec­u­tive di­rec­tor in 1984, en­sur­ing that Wash­ing­to­ni­ans af­flicted with the dis­ease re­ceived proper care.

“Jim’s deep com­mit­ment to serv­ing and help­ing peo­ple can­not be over­stated. Be­fore be­ing elected to the coun­cil, Jim had al­ready made his mark as a leader,” said Vin­cent Gray, a fel­low Demo­cratic coun­cil mem­ber and for­mer mayor.

His di­rec­tion of Whit­man-Walker helped cre­ate a thriv­ing en­vi­ron­ment at the clinic. When he left the fa­cil­ity in 1999 to serve on the coun­cil, it boasted 270 full-time em­ploy­ees and 1,200 work­ing vol­un­teers. It had grown to the point that satel­lite clin­ics popped up through­out the re­gion.

On Thurs­day, coun­cil Chair­man Phil Men­del­son said that dur­ing Mr. Gra­ham’s ten­ure in the leg­is­la­ture, his work in the LGBT com­mu­nity was com­bined with many other com­mu­nity ef­forts.

“Jim worked es­pe­cially hard on is­sues like home­less­ness, ju­ve­nile jus­tice, di­ver­sity and pub­lic transportation,” said Mr. Men­del­son, at-large Demo­crat.

Bri­anne Nadeau suc­ceeded Mr. Gra­ham as the Ward 1 rep­re­sen­ta­tive on the coun­cil in 2015. She said that de­spite her pol­icy dif­fer­ences with Mr. Gra­ham, she never doubted his love for his con­stituency.

“As a coun­cilmem­ber, he leaves a legacy of fierce ad­vo­cacy on be­half of Dis­trict res­i­dents,” Ms. Nadeau said.

D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser said Mr. Gra­ham’s legacy will live on — even in her own ef­forts for equal­ity.

“To­day, as I fight to in­clude more Wash­ing­to­ni­ans in the Dis­trict’s pros­per­ity, I do so on the shoul­ders of lead­ers like Jim who fought to prove that mov­ing D.C. for­ward means leav­ing no res­i­dents be­hind,” Miss Bowser said Thurs­day.


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