Charles Wyatt, a longtime local minister and one of Las Vegas' first black police officers, died Saturday from complications associated with diabetes. He was 76.
Wyatt was an officer with the Las Vegas Police Department in 1966 when he founded the First African Methodist Episcopal Church in North Las Vegas.
He served as a pastor and associate minister there until his death, but left the Police Department in 1978 to take a job as a prison chaplain at the new Southern Nevada Correctional Center in Jean.
"I'm tired of being a policeman," he then told a local newspaper. "I'm a minister first."
He had to leave that job in 1984, however, because "diabetes hit him very hard," his daughter, Flossie Robinson, said on Tuesday.
Wyatt was born Feb. 26, 1931, in Jackson, Tenn. He graduated from the University of Arkansas with a degree in theology and attended Jackson Theological Seminary at Shorter College, his family said.
Wyatt first came to Southern Nevada in 1956 to serve in U.S. Air Force.
He helped his North Las Vegas church grow from 18 original members to about 800.
"He loved his church and his family," Robinson said. "I'm glad that we were raised in the church, because when things come heavy like they are now, I lean to that."
Wyatt's son-in-law, Gerald Robinson, who works as a steward at the church, said Wyatt commanded respect. "When he spoke, people listened."
Wyatt was married to his wife, Mylinda, for 50 years.
She said her husband ran his home and church in a "soft but firm" way.
"He believed in honesty and truth, and that is what we taught our children," she said.
Wyatt told the Review-Journal in 1978 that his work as a minister involved searching for the best in people.
"I've always believed there's some good in the worst of people," he said. "You have to bring out the best in the individual. Then he can see himself as he really is."
Visitation is from 1 to 7 p.m. Thursday at Palm Mortuary Downtown. Services will be at 11 a.m. Friday at First African Methodist Episcopal Church, 2450 Revere St., North Las Vegas.