Former Prince George’s Co. Exec. Wayne Curry dies

Wayne Curry was diagnosed with lung cancer. (WTOP Photo/Colleen Kelleher)

WASHINGTON — Peers are remembering former Prince George’s County Executive Wayne Curry as a fierce politician, whose hard-charging personality helped bring an economic boom to the financially-strapped area.

Curry, Prince George’s County’s first black county executive, died July 2 after battling lung cancer. He was 63.

“He was a lion,” says Prince George’s County State’s Attorney Angela Alsobrooks. “He was courageous and he, to the last minute, intended to give everything he had.”

Betty Hewlett, a longtime Curry ally, agreed.

“[Until] he closed his eyes this morning,” Hewlett says, “he remained optimistic about Prince George’s County.”

Cur ry was first elected to the county executive’s seat in 1994 and served until 2002. After he left office, Curry remained a major political player behind the scenes.

In 2012, Curry came out in favor of expanded gambling in Prince George’s, an issue that generated a long, contentious debate. He was also the transition team chief for current County Executive Rushern Baker III, who supports legalized gambling.

“For me, this loss is deeply personal,” Baker III said in a statement. “He was an amazingly generous friend, colleague and supporter. He was a mentor to me and to so many others.”

Curry helped bring more upscale development to Prince George’s County and played a key role in persuading Jack Kent Cooke to build a new Washington Redskins stadium in Landover, Maryland.

Before the ground was broken for the stadium, Curry questioned the benefits of the project for the county, and didn’t want the county’s taxpayers to pay $78 million toward the stadium’s construction. Now, the neighboring Sports and Learning Complex is named after Curry.

“He helped create the image of Prince George’s County as a place where economic development could really take off,” says former State’s Attorney Glenn Ivey, who describes Curry as a “towering figure” who had “a great knack for closing the deal.”

And Curry, who grew up in Cheverly, was always willing to push the envelope to get things done. “Wayne Curry was definitely not a ‘go along to get along’ kind of guy,” says Del. Jolene Ivey, Glenn Ivey’s wife.

“I think to the day of his death,” Glenn Ivey concludes, “he may have been the most popular figure in Prince George’s County, even though he left office over a decade ago.”

Funeral details:

Public Viewing:

  • Wednesday, July 9, 2014 – 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.
    14741 Governor Oden Bowie Drive
    Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20772

Public Viewing

  • Thursday, July 10, 2014 – 9:30 a.m. to 11 a.m.
    First Baptist Church of Glenarden
    600 Watkins Park Drive
    Upper Marlboro, MD 20774

Service of Life and Celebration

  • Thursday, July 10, 2014 – 11 a.m.
    First Baptist Church of Glenarden
    600 Watkins Park Drive
    Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20774

Internment – Private (Family Only)

WTOP’s Kate Ryan contributed to this report.

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