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Bishop J.O. Patterson Jr., the prominent politician and clergyman who became the first African-American to occupy the office of mayor of Memphis, died Saturday afternoon.

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The 76-year-old bishop of the Church of God in Christ died at Methodist University Hospital from an unknown illness.

Nearly a decade before Willie Herenton became the city’s first elected black mayor, Bishop Patterson was appointed interim mayor in 1982 after Wyeth Chandler stepped down to become a Circuit Court judge. He served as mayor for 20 days, making several high-profile appointments and key decisions during the brief stint.As news of Bishop Patterson’s death spread late Saturday, local leaders praised him as a gifted leader who played a major role in the city’s history.

Mayor A C Wharton called him “a man of many talents who distinguished himself in so many different fields.”

“The name Patterson speaks volumes, and he lived up to that name,” Wharton said.

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City Councilman Myron Lowery, who served as interim mayor himself, called Bishop Patterson “one of the greatest political leaders this city has every known.”

“I have followed in his great footsteps,” Lowery added.

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