By Ashley Childs
The Morgan legacy continues to grow by honoring a class of 1961 alumni who is an example of black excellence.
Frank M. Conaway, Clerk of the Baltimore City Circuit Court, died at 81 on Sunday, February 15.
While speaking at the politician’s funeral, President David Wilson read a presidential proclamation that declared February 23rd as Frank M. Conaway Day.
President Wilson said the honor was appropriate due to his remarkable life and his legacy of distinguished public service.
Nearly 400 people who attended the four-hour funeral also saw the life and legacy of Mr. Conaway as remarkable. Some of Maryland’s notable politicians like Mayor Stephanie Rawlings-Blake, Lieutenant Governor Boyd Rutherford and State’s Attorney Marilyn Mosby paid their respects.
“He was full of life,” Rutherford said in a statement on behalf of Governor Larry Hogan and the State of Maryland.
“He took it upon himself to mentor me,” said Delegate Kurt Anderson, referring to Mr. Conaway as the godfather because “he mentored a lot of Baltimore leaders.”
“Frank was a fearless and good solider; he would never let you down,” said Morgan’s Board of Regent’s member Kweisi Mfume.
Numerous judges, delegates, constituents and other politicians were there—plus city employees who were given time off to pay their respects to Baltimore’s Papa Bear as he was known around the city.
There were nearly 20 speeches given and each seemed to uncover a great man.
A Morgan alum and one of Mr. Conaway’s constituents, Michael Cortez James, said he “did the small things that made his constituents love him,” adding that he attended the funeral out of love and respect.
After being honorably discharged from the Army in 1953, Mr. Conaway enrolled in Morgan College and graduated in 1961 with a degree in history and political science. He served as a Maryland Delegate for eight years and then as Circuit Court Clerk for 25 years.
He was the patriarch of a political family, his wife and two children were also in politics. His wife Mary Conaway was the previous Register of Wills. That seat has been taken over by his daughter Belinda Conaway. His son Frank Conaway Jr. is currently a Maryland Delegate. He referred to himself as Papa Bear, his wife as Mama Bear, his daughter as Honey Bear and his son as Baby Bear.
“I didn’t know if I would be able to speak because my heart is breaking,” said Belinda Conaway. “You loved him, we loved him. My father fought for equality. Daddy loved to be with everybody.”
Mayor Rawlings-Blake offered encouragement to the Conaway family, “It does get better,” she said.