James F. McGraw, II was born on September 14, 1933 to parents James F. and Rossie Wallace
McGraw in Harpersville, Alabama. He entered eternal peace on Wednesday, July 1, 2020 in
Winter Park, Florida, after a brief illness.
James F, as he was affectionately known by family and friends in Harpersville, attended primary
and secondary school in the Shelby County School System of Alabama. During his high school
years, he was known as an avid baseball player, with exceptional skills as a pitcher and first
After high school he spent a brief time at Alabama A&M University before enlisting in the
United States Army (Korean War Era) in 1954. While in the army he trained and worked as a
Military Police. After completing his obligation to the Army (1956), he returned to Alabama
(Montgomery) and started work at Maxwell Air Base, while attending Alabama State University.
There in Montgomery, he met and married Bertha Wagner and to that union was born Regina L
McGraw, and James F. McGraw (III) (Frank). In 1962, the family settled in the Apopka area
were James eventually became the first Active African-American Policeman for the City of
Although he didn’t complete his Bachelor’s degree at Alabama State University, he did fulfill his
college aspirations by graduating from Rollins College of Winter Park Florida with a Bachelor of
Science degree in Criminal Justice.
As the first active African-American Policeman for the city of Apopka, during the 1960’s, he
faced a city going through the pains of officially ending Jim Crow styled segregation, while
attempting to embrace the concepts of integration. These social growing pains were exaggerated
for McGraw by the dual nature of being expected to police an African-American population,
while breaking the strong hold of the unjust and sometimes unwritten laws of segregation.
After leaving the Police Department he became an educator in the Lake and Orange County
In 1978 he married Geraldine Rutland of Apopka, Florida and in 1979 he was offered and
accepted the position of the Chief of the University Police Department at Elizabeth City State
University, located in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.
James was a member of St. Paul AME Church and New Hope Baptist Church of Apopka, Florida
He is predeceased by his parents James F. and Rossie Wallace McGraw, sisters Florence
McGraw Lee and Ollie McGraw Carter, and brothers Garnel and Lawrence McGraw, and his
Cherishing James’ memory are his two children, Regina McGraw Burrell (Jeffrey) of Ellenwood,
Georgia and James Franklin McGraw III (Jackie) of Bowie Maryland; Grand Children, Jeffrey
Branden Burrell, Tayler D’Anza Burrell, Christopher James McGraw and Dominique Veasey;
Great-Granddaughter, Nylah Khari Burrell; and Godson, Chuck Willis.
He will also be remembered by his step-children and step-grandchildren, Darryl Rutland,
Apopka, Florida and Vonda Rutland West (Marcus), Apopka, Florida, Brittany and Marcus
West, Apopka, Florida.
Additionally, James has two Sister-In-Laws, three Brother-In-Laws, and a host of Nieces,
Nephews, Cousins and Special Friends who join in celebrating his life.
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