Former Prince George’s County Executive, Wayne Curry.

It was announced, July 2, that former Prince George’s County Executive, Wayne Curry died, at 63, of lung cancer, a diagnosis that was publicly confirmed a mere six weeks ago. Along with the confirmation came his call for people to stop smoking to preserve their own health.

“Today, Prince George’s County, and the state of Maryland, has lost a leader whose fight for justice, fairness, economic equality, and a brighter future for all of our children was matched only by his passion for service and a lifelong commitment to advocacy,” said Lt. Gov. Anthony Brown, in a statement.

“Wayne Curry was an advocate in the best sense of the word…he was smart and tough – a leader who you always wanted on your side. And he never shied away from tough challenges, including his final battle with cancer.”

Curry, the first African American to serve in the county’s highest elected office, served two terms, 1994 to 2002. In that time, he is credited with attracting African American residents to the once predominately White community. Curry helped to land the deal that brought the Fedex Field Stadium into the county, which made it home to the Washington Football Team.

In this May 22, 2014, photo, former Prince George’s County Executive Wayne K. Curry poses for a portrait at his home in Upper Marlboro, Md. A portrait of Curry is seen to the left on the wall. Curry, 63, has died at his home, of lung cancer. (AP Photo/The Washington Post, Matt McClain)

Gov. Martin O’Malley called Curry “one of Maryland’s most forward-thinking leaders.

“Over the course of the eight years we worked together, I witnessed his tireless advocacy and his fearless efforts to advance causes beneficial to Prince George’s County and the African-American community statewide.”