conawayfuneral1

Frank Conaway Sr. was remembered at a funeral service in Morgan State University’s Murphy Fine Arts Center.

Frank Conaway Sr. was laid to rest Feb. 23, with a service honoring his tenacity, conviction, and relentlessness in fighting for the Baltimore community. The funeral service, Morgan State University’s Murphy Fine Arts Center, was attended by many of Baltimore’s political elite, who eulogized Conaway for his unyielding pursuit of what he felt was right, accompanied by an unyielding love for the people and city of Baltimore.

“ was his own person,” said Maryland Comptroller Peter Franchot. “He was an agent of change that refused to accept the status quo when the status quo wasn’t acceptable. A tireless advocate who spoke truth to power, even when it wasn’t comfortable. A maverick who was fiercely independent with his own unique, flamboyant style.”

Baltimore City Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake joked that there were few things Conaway and her saw eye to eye on, drawing a laugh from the knowing crowd. “But we know that agreement is not what creates community,” continued the Mayor. “Unified commitment creates community, commitment and a passion to make our city stronger.”

Defense attorney Dwight Pettit eulogized his friend and neighbor Frank Conaway Sr., recalling a famous boast by Muhammad Ali and saying of Conaway, “Here lies a bad man.

After former NAACP president Kweisi Mfume spoke of Conaway as the one you would want in a fox hole with you because “he would never let you down,” U.S. Rep. Elijah Cummings recalled Conaway as a man that saw Baltimore not simply a city, but a mission.

“Frank knew the people of Baltimore,” said Cummings. “He knew the people that he stood up for over and over and over again. And he could see, in them, himself. . . . e wanted to do something to elevate them, so day after day after day after day he went out trying to accomplish that.”

Former state Sen. Larry Young remembered how Conaway would set up a continental breakfast every Friday morning for himself, Young, and Young’s producer at Radio-One, where both he and Conaway hosted radio shows. Young then spoke of a smaller, more private memorial held for Conaway at the station. “This past Friday, my general manager took the table which Frank set every Friday, and put the continental breakfast there on that table, and he told everyone . . . ‘On this day, this is Frank Conaway Sr.’s table,’ and we honored him, and it’s never been done at Radio-One in my 18 years,” said Young.

Baltimore City Police Commissioner Anthony Batts recalled Conaway’s leadership. “He was a leader who took on the status quo, because leadership is not maintaining the status quo, it’s challenging the status quo,” said Batts, “and that is exactly what he did.”

Perhaps the most appropriate memorial came from defense attorney Dwight Pettit, a long time friend of Conaway and his neighbor in the Ashburton community, who reminded those gathered to honor Conaway’s memory of another giant, Muhammad Ali, who once famously said, “I’m a bad man.”

Referring to his departed friend Frank Conaway Sr., Pettit gave a simple testimony: “I say to the world right now, here lies a bad man.”

ralejandro@afro.com