WARREN, Ohio (WKBN) – James Doc Pugh, who was known for his compassion and work to give a voice to those who had none, has died at the age of 69.
During his time on Warren City Council, Pugh was known as a tireless advocate for the people in his community.
Helen Rucker once lost her seat on the council to him, but says he was an important part of it for many years.
“Doc wanted people to have a better life, and he always helped them try to do that,” Rucker said.
Michael O’Brien served as mayor during Pugh’s eight years on council.
“There was a councilman who was true to his convictions. He didn’t worry about political winds, or what was favorable or what was not. If he took a position, he stuck to it, and that’s what you really admire about Doc,” he said.
From dog licenses to liquor complaints, O’Brien says Pugh wanted to protect everyone’s rights.
“He was a man of equality. Whether you were black or you were white. Whether you were rich or you were poor. Whatever your gender was. He wanted to make sure you were treated equal.”
Pugh backed the city police department and spoke in favor of tax levies to support them. However, the former president of the NAACP didn’t hesitate to criticize the department’s numerous civil rights violations.
“I would rather be dead than be treated like you treated my grandfather. There are a lot of us that feel that way. You don’t disrespect me or mine in front of me and just expect me to accept it. It won’t happen. It doesn’t happen like that,” he once said.
Rucker says Pugh had that strength of conviction for everyone who asked him for help.
“When he found they were being treated unfairly or unjustly, then he would go on the warpath on their behalf.”