Civil rights leader, journalist Jerry Mondesire dies at 65

AP News
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Posted: Oct 05, 2015 2:14 PM

PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Former Philadelphia NAACP president J. Whyatt "Jerry" Mondesire, a longtime civil rights activist, editor and publisher, has died. He was 65.

Mondesire's family said in a statement he died Sunday at Thomas Jefferson University Hospital. Philly.com reports that Mondesire was having dialysis at a local hospital Friday when he suffered a brain aneurysm, and he was transferred to Jefferson and placed on a ventilator.

Mondesire, longtime president of Philadelphia's NAACP chapter until last year and publisher of the Philadelphia Sunday Sun, was a former reporter and editor at The Philadelphia Inquirer. A founding member of the Philadelphia Association of Black Journalists, he also was a community affairs host on WDAS-FM.

Mayor Michael Nutter lauded his "passion and commitment to political and social empowerment" and said he and many others had "benefited from his insight and relentless efforts to improve the life condition for African-Americans and so many others in our city, state and nation."

"Jerry took on the big challenges and put his heart and soul into his work," Nutter said in a statement.

District Attorney Seth Williams said the city and its working men and woman had lost "a great champion and public servant."

"Jerry was a champion for social, racial and economic justice — a truly powerful force for good in our city's many neighborhoods," Williams said, adding that he would miss Mondesire's "signature boots and Stetson."

In 2014, the national NAACP ousted Mondesire and three local board members who had questioned his financial management of the Philadelphia chapter. Attorney General Kathleen Kane was charged with perjury, obstruction and other counts after prosecutors alleged that she illegally leaked information about a 2009 investigation into Mondesire's handling of state job training grants. Mondesire was never charged with any crime.