Ed Potillo died suddenly on Aug. 9, impacting the city and several city leaders. Potillo recently stepped down from his position as chairman of the Ward 7 Democrats and was the vice chairman of the Washington D.C. Democratic State Committee.

Ed Potillo, Ward 7 political leader, died on Aug. 9. (Courtesy photo)

“I am saddened to hear of the passing of Ed Potillo, a native Washingtonian who grew up in Ward 4’s Brightwood neighborhood, graduated from St. John’s College High School, and later loved serving his neighbors in Ward 7,” D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser (D) said in a statement. “He was a mentor to many people – young and some a bit older – who like him, wanted to make their neighborhood, ward, and city a better place. We stood shoulder to shoulder for statehood and D.C. values last summer in Philadelphia and many times around the District. Ed will be greatly missed and my thoughts and prayers are with his family and the Ward 7 community.”

Potillo, 48, died because of an undisclosed lengthy illness. He held a bachelor’s degree in international studies and business from the University of Scranton.

His council member and sometime political ally D.C. Councilmember Vincent Gray (D-Ward 7) spoke highly of Potillo. “Ed led a life dedicated to service since his early childhood,” Gray said. “He served two terms as chair of the Ward 7 Democrats from 2011 – until the spring of 2017 and prior to that, he served as programs chair for four years during which he assisted with the annual Lorraine H. Whitlock Scholarship and Recognition Dinner and winter coat drive. He also served as vice chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee since 2014.

“He has been an advocate committed to helping others, be it through his work as conference and membership director for the National Alliance of Black School Educators or the numerous organizations he volunteered his time and talents to including Push Literacy Action Now, the Transition Housing Corporation, Us Helping Us, People into Living and Damien Ministries, among others. Ed’s advocacy on issues impacting our community will be missed, but we can rest assured in knowing that his legacy of empowering others’ lives on.”

Potillo was briefly a candidate for the Ward 7 D.C. Council seat in 2016 but dropped out before the Democratic primary. Gray won the party primary and was re-elected to his council seat in the Nov. 8 general election in 2016.

D.C. Council member Anita Bonds (D-At Large) said that Potillo’s departure was an especially painful one for her. “He will surely be remembered for his generous spirit, understanding heart and quick wit among the many other outstanding attributes that come to mind as each of us revisits our time with Ed and being under his enveloping positive influence,” Bonds, chairman of the D.C. Democratic State Committee, said. “While we might question the why and why now, life teaches that there are no answers. However, for certain, Ed’s life was not lived in vain and his good is remembered – the works, the projects that he fostered and poured himself into, and the numerous intelligent and meaningful conversations one had with him will live through the organizations, communities, and individuals he assisted along the way.”

Potillo was a solid political ally of Bonds in their time together on the D.C. Democratic State Committee and she could count on him for support on organizational issues.

Potillo’s funeral services are in flux, as of AFRO press time. His mother, Omara Rooths and his sister Maritza Neal, have called on the community for help in burying Potillo and they are being assisted by the Marshall Heights Community Development Organization.

“My mother and I are in dire need of funds to bury my brother Ed,” Neal said in a statement on a GoFundMe page set up for Potillo’s burial. “Unfortunately, his death was so unexpected and he didn’t have much. Whatever you can do to assist, we are forever grateful. We are trying to raise the funds as soon as possible so we can have his funeral Mass and burial.”

As of Aug. 14, the page has raised $12,480 of a $15,000 goal.