The legacy of late Wayne K. Curry continues to resonate in Prince George’s County, as his name will display next year on a county building in Largo that will house the county executive, the county council, the offices of finance, budget and law and Maryland-National Park and Planning Commission.
Hundreds came to celebrate a dedication ceremony Thursday to honor Curry, whose name already adorns the Sports and Learning Complex in Landover. The county’s first Black county executive is credited with helping to bring the Washington Redskins to FedEx Field and financial discipline to county business.
“Wayne loved this county,” said Glenda Wilson, who served as chief of staff for both Curry and current county Executive Rushern L. Baker III. “He had high expectations for Prince George’s County and held high benchmarks for those who aspire to leadership roles in our county. It has been a wonderful blessing with tremendous challenges and responsibilities.”
During Curry’s eight-year tenure as the face of the county, he’s credited for several initiatives:
• Ended more than 25 years of mandatory busing.
• Key elected positions for Blacks increased from 30 percent to 38 percent.
• Secured $25 million in federal grants to support police programs.
• Transformed $100 million deficit into a $120 million surplus.
The current County Administration Building in Upper Marlboro will continue to house 311 operations and relocate the sheriff’s department and state’s attorney’s office to that building. Although the county’s key offices headquarters will relocate to Largo, officials said Upper Marlboro will remain the county seat.
Baker has labeled Largo as “downtown Largo” not only for county operations, but also central location in the county with Largo Town Center Metro station, the $543 million regional medical center project and future renovation of the Boulevard at the Capital Centre.
“It will connect with development and sandwich them between two Metro stops and…make this area right here one of the places that people are going to come and shop to,” he said. “It speaks to the vision that [Curry] had. It speaks to the vision he had … when he was a little child in Prince George’s County through Jim Crow and busing. It shaped who he became and shaped the vision for this county.”
Curry died in 2014 at 63 of lung cancer.
Former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, who attended the ceremony, jokingly recalled when Curry first introduced him to Cosmopolitan magazine.
“Wayne was my man,” said Steele, who chaired the Republican National Committee from 2009-11 and, as chairman of the Maryland Republican Party, was the first Black ever to hold a statewide position for that party. “I remember our battles when I was the county chairman for the Republican party when Wayne just assumed his responsibility as county executive. It was something to behold. He was a handful. There some things that we disagreed on, but there’s some things where you could be helpful to me and I could be helpful to you. It would get me in trouble sometimes. ‘Why are you talking to the Democrats?’ [people would ask] Because that’s the only way we’re going to get [things] done.”