Reactions to Prince George’s County executive Wayne Curry’s death:
Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley (D):
“Today I join the Prince George’s County community and Marylanders across the State in mourning the loss of my friend and one of Maryland’s most forward- thinking leaders, Wayne Curry. As Prince George’s County Executive, Mr. Curry led the County through one of the most transformative periods in its history, overseeing the County’s explosive population and economic growth.
“Over the course of the eight years we worked together, I witnessed his tireless advocacy on behalf of the people he served and his fearless efforts to advance causes beneficial to Prince George’s County and the African-American community statewide. Katie and I, along with many around our State, offer our deepest condolences to the family of County Executive Curry.”
Maryland Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown (D), Democratic nominee for governor:
“Today, Prince George’s County, and the state of Maryland, has lost a leader whose fight for justice, fairness, economic equality, and a brighter future for all of our children was matched only by his passion for service and a lifelong commitment to advocacy. And Karmen and I have lost a friend who worked every day to make our county, and our state, a better place.
“Wayne Curry was an advocate in the best sense of the word: a fighter who never stopped championing his vision for a better, stronger, more inclusive Prince George’s County. He was smart and tough – a leader who you always wanted on your side. And he never shied away from tough challenges, including his final battle with cancer.
“I, along with an entire generation of leaders, public servants, and Prince Georgians, stand on the shoulders of the legacy he left behind. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Sheila, his children, and all of his friends and family throughout Maryland.”
Larry Hogan, the Republican nominee for Maryland governor:
Hogan said he was “deeply saddened” by Curry’s death.
Hogan, an Anne Arundel County businessman, said he first met Curry in 1978 when Hogan’s father was elected Prince George’s executive and Curry was working for the outgoing executive, Winfield Kelly.
“Wayne and I worked closely together during the transition of administrations and have been close friends ever since,” Hogan said. “Wayne was a good friend and a great leader who contributed so much to Prince George’s County and the state of Maryland. He will be sorely missed. My thoughts and prayers are with Wayne and his family.
U.S. House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.):
“I was deeply saddened to learn of the passing of my friend, former Prince George’s County Executive Wayne Curry. Throughout his life and career, Wayne fought for the county in which he was born and raised and that he loved so dearly. He presided over a transformation that has seen Prince George’s County recognized across the country as a great place to live and raise a family, as a collection of communities that see diversity as a rich asset, and as a source of economic vitality and growth that promotes a strong middle class. Wayne never shied away from a fight when Prince George’s County’s future or its standing were on the line, and his passion for justice, equality, and opportunity continue to inspire those who call the County home. I was honored to work with him over the years as he advocated for a stronger, more prosperous, and inclusive Prince George’s County, and I join in mourning his passing and extending my condolences to his wife, Sheila, and their children, Julian and Taylor.”
U.S. Rep Donna Edwards (D-Md.)
“Today, Prince George’s County mourns the loss of former County Executive Wayne K. Curry, the first African American to become county executive in the Washington metropolitan region. CE Curry guided Prince George’s County into becoming one of the most affluent counties in the country. His commitment to economic development as county executive and after leaving office helped lay the foundation for the progress we are seeing in Prince George’s County today. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Sheila, and their two children during this difficult time.”
Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III (D):
“The passing of Wayne K. Curry is a genuine loss for Prince George’s County, the State of Maryland and the Washington Region. He was more than a great leader and iconic personality in this County. He was a tremendously courageous and truly remarkable person who touched and changed so many lives. As Prince George’s County’s first African American County Executive, he was a visionary who raised the standards for the County and its profile locally and nationally.
This County and its residents owe him a tremendous debt of gratitude. He was a son of this great County and he was extraordinarily proud of it and devoted to it. He constantly reminded us how important his hometown was to the region, and to the nation, because it symbolizes what so many people dreamed could happen in America: an affluent majority African American jurisdiction. From National Harbor to FedEx Field, Wayne Curry laid the foundation for the Prince George’s County we know today.
For me, this loss is deeply personal. He was an amazingly generous friend, colleague and supporter. He was a mentor to me and to so many others. I know the residents of Prince George’s County join me as we express our sincere sympathy to Wayne’s family and to his many friends who loved him so much.”
Prince George’s County Council Chairman Mel Franklin (D-Upper Marlboro):
“Today, Prince George’s County’s 900,000 residents mourn the loss of former County Executive Wayne Keith Curry, who has passed away at age 63. Wayne loved his family dearly, and our love, thoughts and prayers are with his wife, Sheila, and their children, Julian and Taylor, especially at this most difficult time.
Wayne Curry was a courageous leader, civil rights trailblazer, and political and economic visionary. He was a friend, role model, and mentor, especially to those of us who chose a life of public service. His passing is felt deeply from every corner of our beloved Prince George’s County, built with Wayne’s love and passionate commitment.
Wayne confronted his illness the way he confronted every challenge in his life, with fearlessness and unwavering resolve. From integrating Tuxedo-Cheverly Elementary School as a young child, to becoming Prince George’s County’s first African-American County Executive, Wayne’s life was “history in the making.”
Even as he battled lung cancer, Wayne reached out to save the lives of others by sharing his story. To me and so many of us close to him, Wayne was family and losing him creates an irreplaceable void in our hearts.
Today, we honor his life, his family, and all that he meant to us. Wayne Curry is still Prince George’s County.”
Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks (D):
From meeting with advisors to organizing a fishing trip, Alsobrooks said, Wayne Curry’s final day was just as purposeful and fun as any other day in the life of a public servant who was always an example of excellence and pride for the people of Prince George’s County.
“He had that can-do spirit,” Alsobrooks said. “He was able to convince us as late as yesterday that it was absolutely possible to get on a boat in a 96 degree day, with full blown cancer, and fish. It is a wonderful gift that he is giving us: to never give up hope never.”
Alsobrooks called Curry a “lion,” who enjoyed protecting and providing for others. And he had a big sense of humor. A few weeks ago, he held a fishing party after bad weather prevented him from actually going out. “He bought all of us fishing hats and we all sat at the table with fishing hats on.”
During a phone call with Curry on Tuesday, Alsobrooks asked Curry if he was up for a visit. She said he told her, “Come tomorrow after I go fishing.”
But that tomorrow never came. “ He left here. He died the way he live. He was working until the last day. He was expected to go into his office. He had people there apparently waiting to receive him. He intended to work until the end. He was a marvelous example. He never stopped living.”
Maryland Sen. Jim Rosapepe (D-Prince George’s):
“Wayne Curry, my friend for 30 years, never forgot where he came from -- Prince George’s County. And he never gave up on his dream of convincing the world outside its borders of its world-class people. Few people have achieved so much of their vision. Wayne was a game changer.”
Betty Hewlett, chair of Prince George’s County planning board:
Hewlett said Curry was a mentor to scores of people in the county.
“He paved the way,” she said. “There are so many of us who feel he leveled the playing field.”
When she was a young attorney, she said, Curry sought her out for his law firm. He then appointed Hewlett to the planning board. She was later reappointed by current County Executive Rushern L. Baker III. Both she and Baker were at Curry’s home Wednesday morning shortly after receiving word of his death.
“He truly cared about this county, was so optimistic about its future and believed in its potential to his last breath and beyond,” Hewlett said. “He passed the baton and we still have work to do for [Prince George’s] betterment.”
Tommie Broadwater, a former Maryland state senator:
Broadwater babysat Curry when he was a child, said he admired Curry for his fearlessness.
“He didn’t have any fear,” Broadwater said. “He not only took on challenges. He liked a challenge.”
Broadwater said Curry fought for Prince George’s and its residents.
“He took pride into making the county second to none. . . He tried to bring along people as he went along. He was confident in himself and he knew he didn’t have to step back for anybody and he knew Prince George’s didn’t have to step back for anybody. . . He goes down as a great leader in our community and deserve the upmost respect.”
Montgomery County Executive Isiah Leggett (D):
“I am deeply saddened by the death of Wayne Curry. He was a friend and colleague for more than 30 years. He was a great public servant and a transformative and history-making figure in the development of Prince George’s County. He worked to build a better Maryland for all.
“He will be sorely missed. My prayers go out to his family and his many friends and colleagues.”
Hamil R. Harris, Arelis Hernandez, Jenna Johnson, John Wagner and Ovetta Wiggins contributed to this story.