Graham Leo Downey, 1st African Nova Scotian councillor, dead at 76

Family and friends of Graham Leo Downey are remembering him this week after his death on Saturday.

According to his obituary, Downey passed away peacefully at home

Family and friends of Graham Leo Downey are remembering him this week after his death on Saturday.

Downey was a well-respected leader in the Halifax community who has held many positions over the years. 

Graham Leo Downey has had an eclectic career and was a well respected member of the Halifax community. (jeromedowney.ca)

Downey honed his negotiating skills as a baseball recruiter and coach for several years in the 1950s and 60s. 

"Graham's teams were always multi-racial, which wasn't easy in the 1960s," reads his obituary. 

He was the first African Nova Scotian alderman, as well as the first African Nova Scotian councillor and deputy mayor of Halifax. Downey served as councillor for District 12 for 27 years, until he lost his seat to Dawn Sloane in 2000. 

"His unprecedented record of eight consecutive civic election victories was based on a platform of providing basic needs such as upgraded and affordable housing, street lighting, cleaner neighbourhoods, better schools, and community recreation facilities," said his grandson Jerome Downey on his website.

"Over his political career, he served on continuous basis longer than any other elected official to date."

He also worked for the CBC for 21 years. With his late brother Billy, he co-owned the well-known Arrows Night Club, bringing many popular entertainers from all over the world. 

For his years serving the people of Halifax, Downey was recognized with several awards and appointments, including the Dr. W.P. Oliver Wall of Honor, the 2002 QE II Golden Jubilee Medal, the 2012 QE II Diamond Jubilee Medal and many more recognition and awards.

Downey is survived by his wife of 52 years, Ardith, and his six children.

According to his obituary, Downey passed away peacefully at home. 

Visitations will be held at J.A. Snow Funeral Home on Lacewood Drive on Friday, 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. 

The funeral service will be held at 1 p.m. Saturday at St. Patrick's Church on Brunswick Street.

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