Thousands attend funeral for former Prince George's County executive Wayne Curry, 63
UPPER MARLBORO, Md. (WJLA) – Wayne Curry got things done. With colorful flourish. With undeterred intensity. With salty language.
Apparently, it didn’t take long for otherworldly souls to get the message.
The funeral service for the former and transformative Prince George’s County Executive was held late Thursday morning at Upper Marlboro ‘s First Baptist Church of Glenarden, and among the speakers was his brother, Daryl Curry.
Daryl had just begun to give his remarks when his cell phone rang. He sheepishly reached for it, appeared to turn off the ringer, apologized and then continued.
But then it rang again. Daryl reached into his inside pocket, retrieved the phone and turned to the crowd to say he really, really had to take this call because, well, “It’s Saint Peter.” No telling what was being said on the other end of the heavenly line, but apparently Saint Peter had some questions about Mr. Wayne Curry, to which Daryl responded:
“He said what!?” Daryl said into the phone. “You know, sometimes he sees things, thinks they need to be tightened up a little bit (and)... no, no! Don’t send him down there!”
The bit delighted the crowd of some 5,000, who laughed even harder when Daryl returned the phone to his pocket while shaking his head and saying: “Wayne, Wayne. Really? Really Wayne?’’
Taken as a whole, the one-and-a-half hour service was a joyous affair with fond stories of Curry’s out-sized personality and serious plaudits for how Curry doggedly help transform Prince George’s County from what once was a relatively sleepy region into a business-friendly environment that trumpeted successes of the African-American community.
Among the speakers were Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley, Maryland Sen. Barbara Mikulski and Prince George’s County Executive Rushern L. Baker III.
O’Malley noted he loved the way Curry, “raked Jack Kent Cooke over the coals,” referring to the late Washington Redskins owner and negotiations that led to FedEx Field.
Mikulski was quick to point out Curry’s to-the-point style, saying, “You never had a meeting with Wayne, you had an encounter with Wayne.”
Rushern, who clearly was emotional, said, “We thank God that this blazing talent was allowed to live... He was our blazing talent, he was our symbol of vitality. Yes he was our champion. He set the agenda for this county.”
Notes of condolence from President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton, among other elected officials, were read.
And later, gospel music. And swaying. And clapping. And singing.
All in all, a nice way to say goodbye, which, apparently, Saint Peter wants to do, as well.