All day long, people filed past the flag draped casket of former Prince George’s County Executive Wayne K. Curry as it rested in the main corridor of the County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro. Daryl Curry tried to shake the hand of everyone who came to pay their respects to his brother.
“The effort that the county and the city of Upper Marlboro put together for Wayne is nothing short of extraordinary,” Curry said. “The police department, fire department– everybody has been so classy and impressive. When we turned the corner and saw the sidewalk lined with people standing and watching, it was emotionally overwhelming.”
Wayne Curry’s family and former members of his cabinet greeted people from all walks of life Wednesday. Whether it was members of the County Council and those who work in the county administration building, Curry’s death sparked reflections of a man whose tenure in public service will always be remembered. Curry’s funeral is scheduled for Thursday morning.
And to a person, colleagues, employees and well wishers spoke about Curry’s importance to the region. Here are some of their reflections:
“In Prince George’s County he gave us backbone,” said Rep. Donna Edwards (D-Md). “It was because of Wayne Curry’s leadership that all across the country, especially in black communities, they point to Prince George’s County– who we are and what we do, and that would have not been possible without Wayne Curry.”
Howard Stone, a close aide to Curry, said: “We took this county from a sleepy hollow to an urban county. He certainly changed the entire face of Prince George’s County as we know it. His legacy is strong and we will never forget what Wayne Curry meant to Prince George’s County. He was Prince George’s County.”
County Council member Andrea Harrison (D) said: “The love that he had for Prince George’s County in and of itself is more than anyone can possibly imagine. He let us all know that this was not about us as individuals, but it was about the greater good of the county. It was about building a great county. It was about serving the people and that is what he did for us.”
Betty Hager Francis, deputy chief administrative officer for County Executive Rushern Baker III (D), served as Curry’s Director of Public Works. She reflected on leaving the DC Government to work for Curry. “He was a person who as a professional I could respect. I wanted to be part of what he was doing to uplift the country. It was my blessing to work for him. Wayne Curry was completely devoted to the county.”
Prince George’s County Council member Derrick Leon Davis (District 6) said: “The gold standard in Prince George’s County is Wayne Curry. He fought when he had to fight. He led when he had to lead and he spoke eloquently whenever he spoke. He set a high bar of expectations for all of us to follow…Wherever Wayne went he blazed a trail.”
Carol D. Johnson, special events coordinator for the County Council, said, “Wayne was a visionary. He was a people person. He made you feel like it was a good thing to come to work. He didn’t shy away from anyone. He made you feel like your county executive cared was important to all of us.”
Charles Staunton, 69, a Fort Washington art collector, said: “I have been going to the Sports and Learning Complex for the last four or five years and Wayne and I would sit down and talk at 6 a.m. He was just down to earth. I thank God for people like that.”
As Daryl Curry stood through the afternoon, he said his brother’s spirit came from their father who they called “The Bull.”
“He had very high standards. He was a drill instructor during WWII. And he ran the house like he was still in the military,” Curry said. “The spirit of Wayne of not surrendering to negativity and not backing down from a confrontation, that was a direct result of how dad raised us.”