In Memoriam

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In Memoriam: George Gurley & Adeyinka Adesoiye
                                                           provided many testimonies regarding these is-
River Terrance Civic Activist                              sues. Our community has suffered a great loss,
George Gurley                                              and he will be remembered forever.
                                                           - Mrs. Doris D. Bishop, president, River Terrace
     Neighbors in River Terrace and Ward 7 gathered
                                                           Community Organization
at Varick Memorial AME Church to mourn and
reminisce about George Gurley, who passed away on
March 2 after a long illness.
     George Gurley “embodied the word service.”
                                                           River Terrance Mourns
     Neighbors, friends and government leaders cel-
ebrated Gurley’s civic activism and legacy. Gurley, a
                                                           George Gurley
                                                               The River Terrace Community mourns the
veteran who served in the US Army and US Air Force,        death of George E. Gurley, a man who meant
was an environmentalist before environmentalism was        so much to so many people. He was a front-line
in vogue. However, he preferred the term “urban pro-       person, very straight forward with people and al-
tector,” which he coined himself, to describe his aware-   ways had the best interest of the community at
ness and advocacy campaigns against the PEPCO plant        heart. He fought to have the PEPCO plant closed
and Shell Hydrogen station, both located on Benning        due to the toxins that were being released from
Road NE. Representatives from both companies at-           the plant. The Shell Hydrogen Station is where
tended the service and lauded his abilities to organize    Gurley organized a peaceful protest because he
and galvanize residents and stakeholders.                  thought that the station was too close to the River Ter-    there was nothing that she wouldn’t do to ensure that
     Akili West, Shell Hydrogen station representative,    race Community. There were various civic associations       the office ran smoothly. At times she would joke with
noted that the company’s president Phil Baxley called      that came to the meeting to inform residents of the         me as to how irreplaceable she was, and now more than
Gurley “a worthy adversary who left his mark on how        potential hazardous conditions of the PEPCO plant           ever I realize how true that statement really is.
the station does business.”                                and the hydrogen station affecting the communities of             Adeyinka truly lived life to the fullest. At the ten-
     Ward 7 Councilmember Yvette Alexander com-            Kingman Park, Eastland Gardens, Mayfair, Parkside           der age of 27 years old, she had accomplished more
mented, “The environment started with George Gurley        and Minnesota Avenue. A true Point Man, he will be          than some people garner in a lifetime. She earned an
in my book, and we’ll continue the fight for environ-       missed.                                                     undergraduate degree from American University. She
mental justice in Mr. Gurley’s honor.”                         Adrian Hasty, Second Vice President of River Ter-       was scheduled to earn a master’s degree this May from
     Gurley was also known for his efforts to teach civic   race and of Far Northeast & Southeast Council               her alma mater in public administration. Adeyinka
engagement and activism. Author of the book “Twenty                                                                    was extremely active and displayed tremendous lead-
Years in the White Man’s Military,” he championed so-                                                                  ership qualities when dealing with affairs in the ward,
cial justice and engagement. A leader of several neigh-    George Gurley, a Pillar                                     her church and as a member of the Delta Sigma Theta
                                                                                                                       sorority’s Washington, DC, alumni chapter.
borhood organizations during his lifetime, his legacy           George Gurley was a pillar of the River Terrace
stretched from River Terrace to the Kingman Island         Community and champion of environment, health and                Adeyinka truly leaves behind spaces in this world
neighborhood to Ward 8.                                    human rights issues. Mr. Gurley was steadfast in iden-      that can never be filled. But more importantly, she also
     Gurley was interred at Arlington National Cem-        tifying and challenging disparities in all populations,     leaves behind the love and the light in each of us, the
etery.                                                     especially in underserved communities. Mr. Gurley was       sparks of joy and hope that will continue to live in our
- Sylvia Brown, commissioner ANC 7C SMD 04                 our friend, leader, educator and advocate. Current and      hearts and lend strength to our souls. We’re given many                                            future generations in River Terrace and neighborhoods       gifts as we go through life. Some we’re allowed to enjoy
                                                           throughout Washington, DC, have and will continue           for a long time, others only briefly. But each gift has the
                                                           to benefit from his heroic advocacy and legacy.              power to change us, enrich us, to make us better people.
George Gurley Remembered                                   - Dianne Hampton, River Terrace Community Orga-             That’s what Adeyinka did.
    I met George E. Gurley 21 years ago when I             nization Environmental Committee Member                          God has many ways of reminding us that the beau-
moved into the River Terrace Community. I was im-                                                                      tiful spirits who have touched our lives soar higher
pressed with Mr. Gurley’s love for humanity and his                                                                    and farther than we would ever imagine, all the way
compassion for his neighbors, family and friends. Mr.                                                                  to perfect peace and freedom with him. No one can
Gurley was a great leader, role model, author, father,     Executive Assistant Adeyinka                                take away our pain and the loss we feel, but we can take
grandfather and great grandfather. He leaves a great                                                                   comfort in the knowledge that Adeyinka is at peace.
legacy of fond memories behind. Mr. Gurley was a           Cynthia Adesioye                                                 In the words of Maya Angelou, “A great soul serves
champion for economic, social, and environmental               Two weeks ago we suddenly lost one of our own.          everyone all the time. A great soul never dies. It brings
justice. He spent many hours in the library studying       My executive assistant, Adeyinka Cynthia Adesioye,          us together again and again.”
and researching the issues. He fought against PEP-         unexpectedly passed away on March 23. Words can                  We know that Adeyinka will continue to bring us
CO, Shell Hydrogen and the trash transfer station.         not describe the sadness and the pain that we feel as       together. Our hearts go out to her family, friends and
He was quite concerned about the pollution that            an office family.                                             sorority sisters. She will always hold a special place in
was coming out of the turbines. Since many of the              Adeyinka was more than an employee – she was a          my heart.
neighbors had cancer, asthma and other respiratory         friend, a confidant and, at times, the sister that I never   - Yvette Alexander, councilmember for Ward 7
issues, Mr. Gurley was on the front line fighting and       had. She was truly the driving force in my office, and        ★

32 ★ East of the River | April 2009