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Posted at 7:34 PM ET, 01/12/2011

D.C. activist William Lockridge dies

By Michael DeBonis

Update:William LockridgeWilliam O. Lockridge, a longtime Ward 8 political activist and education advocate who is a sitting member of the DC. State Board of Education, died Wednesday evening at George Washington University Hospital. He was 63.

Natalie Williams, a spokeswoman for the Lockridge family, confirmed his death from respiratory failure, which came less than a week after Lockridge suffered a stroke while at home in the Washington Highlands neighborhood of Southeast D.C.

"William was a true public servant who was constantly in the trenches and working for the people, especially those in Wards 7 and 8,” Mayor Vincent C. Gray (D) said in an interview. “He was an activists who was never afraid to speak up when someone was trampling on the rights of the District’s children.”

Lockridge was first elected to the D.C. Board of Education in 1998, remaining on as the board was stripped of most of its power in 2007 and transformed into the State Board of Education. Throughout, he remained active in the Ward 8 Democrats and the D.C. Democratic State Committee with his wife Wanda. He is survived also by a daughter, son, four grandchildren, and his once-prominent uncle, R. Calvin Lockridge, who also served on the school board.

A native of Chicago, Lockridge moved to Washington in 1979, working as a teacher, coach and administrator for the D.C. Public Schools for more than 15 years before running for the school board, according to a campaign biography.

“William Lockridge was an ordinary guy who did extraordinary things,” said D.C. Councilmember Marion Barry (D-Ward 8). “He fought for the children, the least, the last and the lost, and he would take on anybody, including myself, because he was a fighter.”

Barry said Lockridge’s wife, children, other family members and friends were at his side when he died around 5:30 p.m.

File photo by Kevin Clark/The Washington Post, 2007

By Michael DeBonis  | January 12, 2011; 7:34 PM ET
Categories:  DC  
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This is a huge loss for the city. William Lockridge was a tireless advocate and consistent voice on behalf of the least among us. Amidst all the rhetoric of "children first" and "education as the next civil rights struggle," Mr. Lockridge walked the walk. I was witness to many occasions when school officials made a point to direct services or projects to east of the river schools in order to avoid the inevitable blowback from Mr. Lockridge if they were neglected.

He will be missed - and I don't know who will pick up the mantle.

Posted by: dcintheworld | January 12, 2011 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Thank GOD for this strong BLACK MAN and his care for Ward 8 who helped keep it straight. William Lockridge you were admired and too bad no one can fill your shoes but rest in peace Black Man.

Posted by: TheresaDudleyFat | January 12, 2011 8:14 PM | Report abuse

My name is Ernest Richardson, I met William Lockridge in 1984 as a student at Ballou High School. I wasn't sure what to make of this wrestling coach, he was a gentle man off the mat but ferocious on it. Later, I would realize this same trait is what makes the man. I spent my high school years as an athlete on his wrestling team, and a lifetime as his friend. A mentor to me when i needed it, a kick in the ass when necessary and supportive always.

His death will have a tremendous effect on wards 7 and 8 of Wash. D.C., the residents have very few in the city who work so hard and dilligently for the education of the youth. I hope the community and city work just as hard to fill his shoes.

Finally I would like to send my prayers to his family. They were kind enough to let me visit with him on Sunday. I cannot begin to express the love that surrounded this wonderful man. Wanda, his wife, was the true definition of dignity and grace under awful circumstances, greeting everyone with a smile while addressing questions whose answers were not easy.

RIP Coach, your teachings will continue

Posted by: evilbyrd75 | January 12, 2011 9:01 PM | Report abuse

William was my first cousin. Growing up, he was also my mentor. Whenever problems arose, he was always there with compassion. I shall never forget the sage advice he delivered along the way. I love you, Lock; rest in peace. Dad, Uncle Will, and Allen have you now.

Yvonne Lockridge-Williams

Posted by: yvon436 | January 13, 2011 10:03 AM | Report abuse

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