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Haamid Azeem, prison chaplain, mosque founder; Oct. 23, 1946 -- Dec. 26, 2011

Haamid Abd-al-Azeem, a retired chaplain in the state prison system and co-founder of a Buffalo mosque, died Monday in Legacy Health Care in Williamsville after a long illness. He was 65.

Born Charles E. Hemphill in Columbus, Ohio, he was a graduate of Linden-McKinley High School and attended Ohio State University prior to moving to Buffalo in 1973.

Mr. Azeem changed his name after converting to Islam.

He owned and operated a store on Fillmore Avenue for five years in the late 1970s.

In 1984, he co-founded Masjid Darus-Salaam on East Parade Avenue and served as imam of the small congregation until his death.

Mr. Azeem also was a longtime Muslim chaplain in the state Department of Corrections, working in the Wende, Collins and Groveland facilities. He retired from his chaplain duties in 1996.

Survivors include his wife of 37 years, Nisaa; four daughters, Zaheera, Sabira, Aquilah and Halimah; five sons, Charles Jr., Robert, Warith, Tariq and Haamid; a sister, Margaret Peacock; and two brothers, Jim and Phil Hemphill.

A Janaaza funeral prayer service will be at 2 p.m. today in Masjid Darus-Salaam, 75 E. Parade Ave.

[TOKASZ]