YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio (MyValleyTributes) – Mr. Jessie James Graves llI, 73, affectionately called Butch by his family and close friends, departed this life peacefully on Saturday, December 10, 2022 at The Reserve of Brentwood Assisted Living of Northfield, Ohio assisted by Hospice of Suncrest and his sister, Maxine Jones.

Jessie was born the first of nine children to his parents, Jessie James, Jr. and Theresa Ferguson Graves in Almeda, West Virginia on December 30, 1948. His entrance Into the world was a historic event as he was the first black child born in all-white Hospital.

In 1955, after the coal mines closed, Jessie’s parents relocated to Youngstown, Ohio for better work opportunities. By this time, Jessie was big brother to four other siblings.

Jessie quickly took the lead and while attending Sunday school every Sunday at Jerusulem Baptist Church. He would teach his siblings Sunday school lessons at home and practice various songs from the Buds of Promise choir as a favorite pastime for entertainment. He enjoyed drawing and always had a book in his hand and participated in orator speaking at church and school and could explain or discuss anything you wanted to talk about.

He received good grades in school and excelled. Upon graduating East High School Class of 1967, he received a scholarship to the University to Pittsburgh School of Art Where he attended and did complete his studies.

After returning home in 1971, he quickly became employed at Strauss Department Store; he was a very sharp dresser. While working in retail, he would often take trips to the New York Garment District and buy clothes for himself and his family. While employed there, he was approached to audition for news reporter at the area local station WFMJ 21 Action News, where he was employed 23 years as a field reporter and two years as an anchorman. During this career, he interviewed Jesse Jackson, James Brown, Colin Powell and Dorthy Fulheim just to name a few. He even was interviewed by NBC in New York for the Evening News (he didn’t get the job) but he was delighted nevertheless.

Some of the highlights of his life were In 1968, he was one of the first 150 people to attend the World’s Fair in New York and he was there for the opening day of Disneyland in July, 1955 for $1. He often would visit Hawaii since 1975 and gifted his sister, Mary, to free vacation.

Since retiring, Jessie has moved between Youngstown and Cleveland impacting many lives while residing in The Manor Apartment he developed and implemented a community/liaison resource program for the building residents to receive community resources.

Once moving from there, in 2012 while living in Warren, Ohio, he attended Sunday Morning Serenity Program at the Eastwood Mall under his sponsor, Rodney Kistler, where he encouraged young and old men and women thru out Trumbull County to live in sobriety and a clean living lifestyle. Everywhere Jessie went he left an impact of generosity, kindness and love. Jessie was the best big brother ever. He was a human alarm clock, always calling you with a good morning cheer to make sure you were ok for the day. You were always welcome at his home with a smile, a hug, a cup of coffee and whatever food he was cooking or whatever food he asked you to bring (ha ha). His family were his friends and friends were his family. He showed love and respect all the time and he made the best lasagna and always enjoyed family dinners and we never parted without saying “I love you.”

Left to cherish his memory are his sisters, Michelle Beachman (Arrilous) of Youngstown, Ohio, Maxine Jones (Ernest) of Cleveland, Ohio, Mary Thomas (Donald) of Cleveland, Theresa Wiggins (Fred) of Youngstown, Jeffery Graves (Alisa) of Cleveland and Jimmy Graves of Kentucky; favorite aunt, Bradie Higgs of Youngstown; favorite nephew, Kelly Graves (Kim) of Warren and host of nieces, nephews, relatives and friends.

Jessie is preceded in death by his parents, Jessie James, Jr. and Theresa Ferguson Graves; his grandmother, Theresa Watson-Hereford; brothers, David Alan Graves and Boyd Edward Graves; a favorite aunt, Greta Rawls and a favorite uncle, Paul Graves.

Special thanks to friends of Warren, George Davis, Jacqueline Mitgett, Patricia Dunbar (mindfulness), Joyce Wheichel and Sheila Brill. Very special thank you to Bobby Nero, Director of the Brentwood Healthcare and The Reserve Of Brentwood and his amazing staff of nurses and workers, especially to, Dwight (driver) and The Hospice Of Suncrest and his Church home of Victory Baptist Church.

A television tribute will air Friday, December 23 at the following approximate times: 5:17 a.m. on WKBN, 8:39 a.m. on FOX, 5:21 p.m. on WYTV and 6:35 p.m. on MyYTV. Video will be posted here the day of airing.