Following the death, at 94, of former NAACP Milwaukee Branch President and first Black MPD Sergeant Felmers Chaney, who was funeralized recently at St. Matthew CME Church, a number of local and national government officials and civil rights leaders expressed their condolences.
The following is just a small portion of the remembrances and sympathy expressed to Chaney’s wife Jessie and family by those who worked with, marched with and personally knew Chaney, who devoted much of his life to Milwaukee’s Black community and civil rights.
Mayor Tom Barrett: “Milwaukee has lost one of its most prominent and influential citizens.
“Felmers Chaney was an accomplished leader and a passionate advocate. He was a tireless champion of civil rights who dedicated his life to enriching the lives of fellow Milwaukeeans. His influence was wide-spread and he had a profound impact on countless Milwaukee organizations and institutions.
“I will miss his distinguished presence and his invaluable insight.”
Community Journal Publisher Patricia O. Pattillo: “Sarge,” as he was affectionately called, was a Milwaukee Treasure. He was a respected and iconic figure who kept law and order along Walnut Street and its surrounding neighborhoods.
“He moved up in the ranks until he finally attained the Third District leadership post.
“He helped calmed much of the potential disturbances during the Open Housing Marches, the Third Street riots and, of course, went on to attain the leadership position of the Milwaukee NAACP.
It was during his tenure that the organization achieved the landmark red-lining suit and victory for residents of the central city over insurance giant American Family for charging different rates in the central city and rejecting some clients due to their residential locations.
His light is a foundational one in the growth and development of Milwaukee and particularly the central city.”
Common Council President and Alderman Willie Hines, Jr.: “Felmers Chaney was an iconic figure and trailblazer in the history of the Milwaukee Police Department, and he later took that same spirit of courage and leadership to the Milwaukee branch of the NAACP, where (as president) he fought for civil rights and liberties and against police abuse and school segregation.
He leaves a strong and positive legacy for others to follow – a legacy that I believe will live on for many years.
James H. Hall, Jr., President of the NAACP-Milwaukee Branch: The NAACP – Milwaukee Branch is deeply saddened by the passing of Felmers Chaney, a long-time president of the Branch and champion of the community.
Mr. Chaney stood for what was right, just and fair and provided bold leadership not only in the area of civil rights, but in business and community development and as one of Milwaukee’s first African American police officers.
Mr. Chaney was a “towering” figure in the true sense of the word. He believed in holding authorities responsible for fairly applying of the law, but at the same time expected individual accountability.
Our community is greatly indebted to him for his service and leadership. He was a real “hero” and he will be sorely missed by all.
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