Friends, family bid goodbye to `Mike' Curran

Councilman remembered as tough, compassionate

April 20, 1999|By Gerard Shields | Gerard Shields,SUN STAFF

A blaring bagpipe, twinkling harp strings and sea of the state's top Democratic politicians gave an Irish-American tribute at the funeral yesterday of former Northeast Baltimore City Councilman Martin E. "Mike" Curran.

Former Gov. and current state Comptroller William Donald Schaefer, Lt. Gov. Kathleen Kennedy Townsend, Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes and Mayor Kurt L. Schmoke joined about 1,000 friends, family and Curran supporters packing St. Dominic Roman Catholic Church on Harford Road to bid farewell to the longtime Democratic Party organizer.

Mr. Curran, 64, died Thursday from complications of a heart attack he suffered while driving Wednesday. The retired Carling-National brewery worker spent 18 years representing the 3rd District in the City Council.

Friends and family remembered Mr. Curran as a tough but compassionate politician who put the needs of constituents first. In his homily, the Rev. Thomas Baumgartner emphasized that the funeral readings and songs focused on the key aspect of Mr. Curran's life: service.

The Curran family has held a seat in Baltimore City Council -- known as "the Curran seat" -- for 46 years. Mr. Curran's father, J. Joseph, served as a 3rd District city councilman beginning in 1953.

Mike, who served as a clerk to his father, took the seat when his father died in 1977. Mr. Curran's younger brother, Robert, was elected to the council seat in 1995.

A Curran has served in an elected state position over the past four decades. Mike Curran's brother J. Joseph Curran Jr. is the state attorney general. In his eulogy, the attorney general recalled how his brother borrowed his car and had its oil changed. When the oil leaked out and the car seized, it was Mike Curran who suggested that the brothers sue the mechanic.

"We lost the case and I lost the car," said the attorney general, who was in his first year of law school at the time.

Councilman Martin O'Malley, who also represents the 3rd District, sang the communion song, a rendition of "Amazing Grace."

Mr. Sarbanes called Mr. Curran an artist at guiding legislation. "He knew when to hold them and when to fold them," Mr. Sarbanes said.

Mr. Schmoke called Mr. Curran tough with a rigid sense of right and wrong who looked upon politics as a noble profession to improve peoples lives. Of his often being mistakenly called "Mike," Robert Curran said: "I always considered it the highest compliment."

Pub Date: 4/20/99

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