The brief obituary published by the Pope Funeral Home began like this: "Curtis Charles Harmon, Jr. was born in New York N.Y. on June 26, 1949 and departed this life on July 29, 1990."
And then it told, briefly, about his life in Brooklyn, his relocation to the District in 1976, his work as an officer with the D.C. Department of Corrections, where he "was a positive role model for inmates."
The obituary didn't mention what more than 200 people at the funeral service Friday knew. It was the reason for the weeping and the color guard and plaintive hymn sung by the six-member, all-male choir from Meridian Hill Baptist Church.
It's why D.C. Council member H.R. Crawford wrote, in a letter read to those assembled, "I, too, am at a loss to find an answer to that question . . . dear God, why Curtis?"
Harmon, the father of an 18-month-old son, was killed a week ago today, apparently after leaving his job at a halfway house in Northwest known as Community Corrections Center No. 2. He was found in his car on the 2000 block of First Street NW, suffering from multiple gunshots, and police said they have no motive or suspects in the case.
For Harmon's relatives, many of whom came to the services from Brooklyn, the killing remains a mystery. But for some colleagues, there is the suspicion that Harmon may have been killed by a former inmate who tracked him down.
"Our fear is that somebody he had a problem with in the prison saw him and shot him," said one of Harmon's co-workers, who requested that his name not be used. "It's the thing all of us fear the most, to be killed by an inmate."
The rumor has been circulating since the slaying, and a sister, Pamela Harmon, said police are investigating the possibility that a former inmate may be responsible. But so far there are only rumors.
Walter B. Ridley, director of the Department of Corrections, said he had not heard that Harmon's death may have been connected to his work. Ridley, accompanied by other high-ranking officials, attended the services Friday.
Harmon joined the department in 1976, the same year he moved to the District from Brooklyn. A spokeswoman said he worked at Lorton for most of his career, transferred in 1989 to Community Corrections Center No. 4 in Northeast and earlier this year moved to the halfway house in Northwest.
He was described Friday as a no-nonsense corrections officer who nevertheless worried about the inmates, especially the young ones. His work once earned him the department's man-of-the-year award, one of many commendations. He viewed his career, Ridley said, "as a mission to serve his people, and he did that well."
"He was somebody who was really concerned about young men," said Pamela Curtis, "and he was really concerned about the future of our youth."
She told this story: Several weeks ago, Harmon was in New York when his elderly father suffered a heart attack. While the family was in the hospital, Gwendolyn Harmon, the mother, turned to Pamela Harmon and said it would be nice if she could get a Bible so they could all pray together.
"Where am I going to get a Bible here," Pamela Harmon asked. To her surprise, Curtis Harmon said, "I have a Bible." And he did.