Cobb County lost a civil rights and spiritual leader this morning.
Rev. Dwight Graves, chairman of the Cobb Southern Christian Leadership Conference and pastor of Emmanuel Tabernacle Christian Church in Marietta, died at Wellstar Kennestone Hospital. SCLC members put his time of death at approximately 7 a.m.
None of the members who spoke to South Cobb Patch were aware of the cause of Graves' death.
According to his biography on the website of Emmanuel Tabernacle Christian Church, Graves, who turned 64 on Dec. 14, was born in Freeman, WV. He was the third child of Sherman and Estella Graves. Growing up, he was active in his local church, Bluestone Baptist Church and assisted his father with various community, political and civil rights endeavors.
He majored in secondary education at Bluefield State College in Bluefield, WV before enlisting in the U.S. Air Force on April 4, 1968.
Graves retired 32 years later as a Senior Master Sergeant with many awards and decorations.
In addition to serving as the chairman of the Cobb SCLC, Graves was a SCLC officer for the state of Georgia.
He was also a member of Prince Hall Masons, Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity, CASA Board, Kellogg Board (Kennesaw Village), Cobb County Interdenominational Ministerial Alliance, Cobb County Coalition for Social Change and Interdenominational Theological Center Trustee Board, African American Unity Summit, VOICE and NAACP.
Graves first served as pastor of a church in Florennes, Belgium from l987 to l989. He then served as assistant pastor and director of outreach at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church in Lebanon, IL from l989 to l992. Next, he was named associate minister of Zion Baptist Church in Marietta from l992 to 1997 before becoming pastor of Emmanuel.
Survivors include his college sweetheart and wife of almost 40 years, the former Cheryl D. Branham of Philadelphia, and their daughter, Diana Lynette.
“He was just a caring person. That’s what I’ll remember most about him,” said Curtis Fitts, youth coordinator for Cobb SCLC and a member of Emmanuel Tabernacle Christian Church. “He cared about everybody and he was a fighter for everybody."