flew by as I sat down recently to interview long time local Democratic activist
looking 74, the father of five, has been an educator, artist and actively
involved in the Democratic Party for years. He showed no signs of slowing down
and had plenty of interesting stories to share with me.
born in Clarksburg, West Virginia and began teaching art in elementary school
in Ohio where his interest in politics began in earnest.It seemed budget battles years ago resulted
in schools being closed for 6 months at a time in his school district in Ohio.
During Spring Break when he was in Ohio, he decided to begin a job search and visited Virginia, Delaware and Harford County Maryland, before settling on Frederick County, Maryland.
he immediately knew Frederick County was where he wanted to be when on his way
to interview for a teaching position, he drove on Route 70 west and upon
reaching the Mt. Airy area, he saw the beautiful mountain views.
teaching at newly opened Linganore High School in 1963 and moved to Creagerstown. After, several moves that included Walkersville, he would end up in Middletown, where he resides today, with a property that would also house his pottery studio.
background and love for pottery led to his starting a pottery studio and
subsequently participating in craft shows for forty years.His involvement in politics led to him being
commissioned to produce a pottery piece for all of the newly elected governors
one year.The piece depicted Jacksons
Mill, West Virginia; famous for being where Civil War confederate General
Stonewall Jackson was raised.
many stories he shared with me, it was fascinating to hear how he has shaken
hands with three Presidents of the United States in his lifetime.
recalled shaking hands with Jimmy Carter three days before he was elected in
1976.He had taken his family to a
planned rally at the square in Alexandria, Virginia.They had gotten up early to stand in line
with hopes to see Carter.Shortly, after
they arrived, a local political activist approached them and asked if they
would help blow up balloons for the rally.The incentive was they would receive a standing spot in the front behind
the rope line.They readily agreed and
as luck would have it, after they earned their front row spots, Carter walked
by and shook their hands.
with President Lyndon Johnson took a little more planning on his part.At the time Johnson was president, Currey
lived in Creagerstown in northern Frederick County and it wasn’t hard to know
when the president was at nearby Camp David; the presidential retreat located in the Catoctin Mountains.
morning, in the winter of 1964, just months following the assasination of President John F. Kennedy, knowing Johnson was at Camp David, Russ
drove to Thurmont and went to the churches in town to see if he could catch the
president attending a service.He found
the presidential motorcade, slipped behind the rope line and approached the
president, only to be stopped by a secret service agent.After, assuring the agent he only wanted to
shake his hand, the agent allowed him to approach President Johnson and shake
his hand.Russ told me his memory was
his hand was huge!
Clinton was the third president Currey shook hands with and this time it was in
Frederick, Maryland where he was attending the groundbreaking of a housing
development and speaking about his economic plan. Currey said he thought
something was up when while eating breakfast at a Frederick restaurant with his daughter, he noticed a
swat team and recognized Dee Dee Myers, an adviser to President Clinton. Russ found
the staging area, went through a metal detector and once again landed a front
row standing position.He shared with me
Clinton was left handed and his fingers were incredibly long. He added, with those
fingers, Clinton would have made a great piano player.
In 1969 as
an officer of the Frederick County Teachers Association, Russ remembers
teachers going on strike over the budget and having a meeting at the old Armony
located in downtown Frederick on Bentz Street.
place, he recalled, even though Maryland law prohibits teachers to strike.Interestingly, $3 million was found by the
end of the day and teachers went back to work the next day.
In 1968, Russ worked on the Goodloe Byron campaign for congress in the
Maryland 6th district.A race
Byron would lose to Republican John Glenn Beall before winning the seat in
spoke fondly of the creation of the United Democrats of Frederick County
(UDFC), who just celebrated their 30th anniversary. He remembers
Dick Franklin being on the board of directors at that time and today Russ
Currey, who is stepping down as president of UDFC, spoke enthusiastically about
incoming president Mark Jafari.He said
it was time for younger Democrats to assume leadership positions in the county.
also not running for reelection to the Frederick County Democratic State Central
Committee after having served for three terms.Frederick County Democratic voters will elect 6 men and 6 women to the
central committee in the 2014 primary on June 24, 2014.
Russ will stay involved by serving on the board of directors of the newly created
Western Maryland Democratic political action committee.
excited about the creation of the western Maryland Democratic Pac and said it
was an outgrowth of the Western Maryland Democratic Caucus.As a Pac, they are able to raise funds and
plan to support western Maryland Democratic candidates in the 2014 election.
was formed to bring more state attention and state dollars to the western
counties of Carroll, Frederick, Washington, Allegheny and Garrett.
the caucus will be holding their tenth Western Maryland Summit, a successful
event that is held during the month of April, that attracts the Governor,
Comptroller, Attorney General, and other Democratic elected officials from
around the state and western Maryland.
may be stepping down as chair of the UDFC and as a member of the Frederick
County Democratic State Central Committee, you can be sure he will stay
involved in local Democratic Party politics.
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