Decatur W. Trotter, 72, state delegate, senator

May 05, 2004|By Jacques Kelly | Jacques Kelly,SUN STAFF

Decatur W. "Bucky" Trotter, a Democrat who represented Prince George's County in the General Assembly for nearly a quarter-century and for a time was chairman of the Legislative Black Caucus, died of bone cancer Monday at Johns Hopkins Hospital. He was 72 and lived in the Glenarden area.

Colleagues recalled him yesterday as a spirited speaker and defender of the rights of the disadvantaged. He opposed capital punishment and spoke out against racial disparities in judicial sentencing. He was the caucus chairman from 1986 to 1988.

"He was such a great orator, we called him Zeus. He would command great attention on the Senate floor. He was just awesome. He could bring Shakespeare into the 21st century in his speeches," said state Sen. Nathaniel J. McFadden, a Baltimore Democrat. "He was a fighter for the downtrodden. He knew what it was to fight to achieve in spite of the obstacles."

Born in Washington, Mr. Trotter served in the Army and then earned his undergraduate degree from Virginia State University in Petersburg, where he was a lineman on the football team and a member of Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity.

As a young man, he worked as a guard at the District of Columbia's Lorton Reformatory in northern Virginia and was the facility's athletic director. He became active in local politics and served as a Glenarden town councilman through much of the 1960s and mayor from 1970 to 1974.

Mr. Trotter was elected to the first of two terms in the House of Delegates in 1975 and then was elected to the state Senate in 1983. He served until losing the seat in the 1999 elections.

"He was a calculated troublemaker," said former state Sen. Larry Young. "He knew when to push hard and when to pull back. He mastered that. He was an overcomer. He also prided himself in being good in sports and being the best singer in the legislature."

He served on the Governor's Commission on Black and Minority Health from 1986 to 1988, among other legislative duties. He was also a board member and former chairman of the Washington Metro subway and bus transit system.

Services will be at 10 a.m. Monday at Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopal Church, 7707 Allentown Road in Fort Washington. A wake will be held from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday at Glenarden Municipal Center, 8600 Glenarden Parkway.

Survivors include his wife of nearly 50 years, the former Lagreta Walker; two daughters, Kathi Rayner of New Carrollton and Denise Williams of Springdale; two sisters, Avis Hawkins of Takoma Park and Norma Jernigan of Washington; five grandchildren; and a great-grandson.

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