Lawrence Hummel Curry, 82, of Jenkintown, a college professor who became a Montgomery County commissioner and later a state representative in the 154th District, died Monday, Dec. 17, at Abington Hospital-Jefferson Health of complications from a stroke.
Born in Camden, he was the son of W. Lawrence Curry and Mary Louise Hummel. Mr. Curry graduated from Jenkintown High School in 1952. During the next five years, he completed a bachelor’s degree and a master’s degree from the University of Pennsylvania, both in history. While at Penn, he played the clarinet in the university band. He then earned a second master’s degree in history from Temple University.
Mr. Curry, an associate professor, taught history at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia for 40 years ending in 2008. He was also an adjunct professor at Arcadia University, Montgomery County Community College, and Rutgers-Camden.
A Democrat, he was elected to two terms as a Montgomery County commissioner, serving from 1972 to 1980. In that role, he supported initiatives to help senior citizens and vulnerable children, said his daughter, Jacquelyn Curry Todaro.
Val Arkoosh, chair of the Montgomery County commissioners, said Mr. Curry was a friend and mentor. “He once told me that through his many years of public service as an elected official, his favorite was the time he spent as a Montgomery County commissioner,” she said. “He was an example of a leader who cared deeply about his community and who fought tirelessly for those unable to fight for themselves.”
In 1972, Mr. Curry, the freshman member on the historically close-mouthed board, began to push for transparency. “I think they [the commissioners] like to have everything settled before the meeting,” he said. “There are some issues that have to be made public.”
In 1977, he told a Philadelphia conference on crime and the elderly that the solution to criminal behavior included full employment, job training, and recreational opportunities for youth, and that elected leaders needed to study the impact of crime on seniors.
Mr. Curry later served on the Jenkintown Borough Council from 1986 to 1994, and as a Pennsylvania state representative for Jenkintown, Cheltenham, and Springfield from 1992 to 2012.
Faith was an important component of Mr. Curry’s life. He was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Germantown for 78 years.
He taught American history to men incarcerated at Graterford Prison. One man was so moved by Mr. Curry’s depictions of Gen. George Washington at Valley Forge that he produced a series of paintings based on the course, Mr. Curry’s daughter said.
In 1956, he married Shirley Warren Parker Curry. The couple had three children, whom they raised in Jenkintown.
“So many people knew him as the stoic politician who always did the right thing and was calm, cool, and collected,” his daughter said. “At home, he was just fun. He loved games and competition and was goofy – the total opposite of his public life”.
In addition to his wife and daughter, he is survived by children Jennifer Lynn Coleman and Jeffery Lawrence Curry; eight grandchildren; and one great-grandchild.
A 1 p.m. funeral service Friday, Dec. 21, will be at First United Methodist Church of Germantown, 6001 Germantown Ave., Philadelphia, Pa. 19144. Interment is private. A reception will be held from 3 to 5 p.m. Friday at the Flourtown Country Club.