Del. James E. Proctor Jr., right, discusses education funding at the Maryland State House with Dels. Kumar Barve, left, and Nathaniel Exum in 1997. (Craig Herndon/The Washington Post)

Maryland Del. James E. Proctor Jr., a Democrat who represented Prince George’s County in the State House for more than two decades and rose to vice chairman of the House Appropriations Committee, died Sept. 10 at a hospital in Washington. He was 79.

The cause was complications from heart disease, said his wife, Elizabeth “Susie” Proctor.

Mr. Proctor, a resident of Accokeek, Md., had represented Prince George’s in the House of Delegates since 1990. After redistricting, his District 27A seat first included Calvert County from 2002 to 2014 and then Charles County this year.

James Edward Proctor Jr. was born in Washington on June 14, 1936. He was a 1954 graduate of Dunbar High School in the District and spent about a decade as virology research technician at the National Institutes of Health. He also spent 14 years in the Air Force Reserve, being called to active duty in the early 1960s and again in 1968.

He was a 1969 elementary education graduate of what is now Bowie State University, where he also received a master’s degree in education administration in 1972.

Prince George’s County Del. James E. Proctor Jr. in January 2012. (Mark Gail/The Washington Post)

He spent more than 30 years with the Prince George’s school system, initially as an elementary schoolteacher. He became a principal at elementary and middle schools, including Kettering and Andrew Jackson middle schools. His last assignment, in 1998, was a supervisory role in the school system’s transportation department.

His involvement in community groups spurred his political ambitions. He first ran for delegate in 1986, nearly defeating William R. McCaffrey (D) in a primary race that indicated the growing strength and number of black voters in the largely rural southern part of the county.

In May 1990, Mr. Proctor was appointed to fill the final months of McCaffrey’s term after the incumbent resigned amid allegations of harassment against a woman he knew; a District Court judge later found there was not enough evidence to convict McCaffrey.

Mr. Proctor was elected to a full four-year term in November 1990, and he was reelected six times. He was a member of the Maryland Legislative Black Caucus.

Colleagues said Mr. Proctor advocated for education resources, including money for school construction and fields for high school athletics.

The Proctor family has deep roots in the region, and the family name is well-known in Prince George’s County and Southern Maryland. The delegate was a first cousin of former D.C. mayor Vincent C. Gray (D).

Besides his wife of 55 years, whose maiden name was also Proctor, survivors include two children, Stephanie Williams of Potomac, Md., and James E. Proctor III of Accokeek; three sisters, Laverne Glasco of Silver Spring, Lorraine Roberson of Mitchellville, Md., and Janett Gasaway of Washington; and three grandchildren.