22 Aug 2014
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Crowds Turn Out to Remember Former County Executive Wayne Curry

A public viewing and funeral services are planned Thursday for former Prince George's County Executive Wayne Curry, 63, who died from lung cancer. Some roads will be closed Wednesday because of the viewing.

Crowds Turn Out to Remember Former County Executive Wayne Curry Crowds Turn Out to Remember Former County Executive Wayne Curry
Honor guards, elected officials and Prince George's County residents turned out Wednesday to remember the late Wayne Curry, the county's first African-American county executive.

Curry, 63, died July 2 from lung cancer. His body lay in state Wednesday at the Prince George’s County Administrative Building.

A second public viewing will be held from 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m. Thursday, July 10, at the First Baptist Church of Glenardern, 600 Watkins Park Drive in Upper Marlboro.

A service will follow the viewing at 11 a.m. Thursday. The internment will be a private ceremony for family only.

Curry died at home, says  NBC Washington. After he was diagnosed with lung cancer in August 2013, he worked to publicize the disparities of cancer treatment in the United States, and warned African-Americans about the dangers of smoking.

The Democrat was a real estate and corporate lawyer who became Prince George's first African-American county executive in 1994. He left office in 2002.

Current County Executive Rushern Baker III called Curry a personal mentor who embodied the American dream.

"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," Baker said.

The Washington Post reports Curry served two terms in the first metropolitan area in the country to shift from majority white to majority black population with income and education levels that increased.

He helped bring upscale development to the county and played a key role in persuading Jack Kent Cooke to build a new Washington Redskins stadium in Landover, but Curry refused Cooke’s demands that the county pay for the $175 million stadium. The state ultimately paid for the stadium costs, the Post says, which opened in 1997.

During his first trip to Wall Street as county executive Curry showed his tenacity when he tried to preserve the county’s bond rating even as it ran a $108 million budget deficit. The Post reports analysts applauded Curry’s presentation, but warned it was still possible the county’s rating would be downgraded.

“If you downgrade us, I’m going to The Washington Post, the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times and every other newspaper I can find, and I’m going to call you a straight-up racist,” Curry told the analysts, says the Post. “Because I’m fixing it, you applaud it, and you’re going to downgrade me instead of the guy that did it.”

Curry and his brother were two of the first African Americans to attend Cheverly-Tuxedo Elementary School, says NBC.

During an  interview in mid-June with NBC Washington, Curry said his faith was strong despite the grim diagnosis.

"I prayed, consulted with God, I managed myself because I had to present my kids with the appropriate imagery with the challenge that beset me. The really compelling thing is that I wasn’t scared," Curry told NBC. 



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