bishop_j.o._patterson_web.jpgMEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Bishop J.O. Patterson Jr., who became the first black mayor of Memphis during a brief interim period, has died. He was 76.

The Church of God in Christ confirmed Patterson's death at Methodist University Hospital in Memphis on Jun 25 from an unknown illness.

Patterson's grandfather, Bishop Charles Harrison Mason, founded the Church of God in Christ. His father, J.O. Patterson Sr., became the first international presiding bishop of the church and J.O. Patterson Jr. himself served as bishop and was chairman of the General Assembly for more than 10 years.

Patterson served as interim mayor for 20 days in 1982 after Wyeth Chandler stepped down to become a Circuit Court judge. Willie Herenton became the first black elected mayor of Memphis in 1991. Patterson also served as a delegate to the Tennessee Constitutional Convention and the Democratic National Convention in 1972, 1976 and 1980.

He served one term as a state representative and two terms as a state senator. He also sat on the Memphis City Council for five terms, during which time he acted as interim mayor.

Mayor A C Wharton called Patterson “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 told The Commercial Appeal newspaper.

Patterson was born on May 28, 1935, and graduated with a B.A. in business administration from Fisk University in Nashville in 1958.

Before entering politics, he practiced law in Memphis after earning a law degree in 1963 from DePaul University in Chicago.

He ran for mayor in 1982 and was the top vote-getter in a special election to replace Chandler, with 40.6 percent; then-County Clerk Dick Hackett was second with 30 percent, sending the two into a runoff. Hackett won, 54.6 percent to Patterson's 45.6.

Hackett called his former foe “a very intelligent man who always spoke his true beliefs.”

“He was a real gentleman,” Hackett said. “This community, this society really misses that type of leadership.”

Information from: The Commercial Appeal,

Photo: Bishop J.O. Patterson Jr.