WEST MEMPHIS, Ark.– The former mayor of West Memphis has died, the City of West Memphis announced on Wednesday.

Leo Chitman was the first elected African-American mayor of West Memphis. Serving from 1982 to 1986, Mayor Chitman worked to heal racial divides and move the city forward.

His historic victory paved the way for other African-American leaders to be elected citywide including current mayor Marco McClendon.

Courtesy: The City of West Memphis via Facebook

McClendon addressed the city’s great loss, saying:

“During my first few days in office, Mayor Chitman stopped by City Hall to offer words of congratulations, encouragement, and counsel. Because of his trailblazing journey, I was able to go farther than I ever could have dreamed or envisioned. The heartfelt prayers of a city grateful for his service, go out to the Chitman family during your time of loss and bereavement.”