- The Washington Times - Saturday, March 2, 2002

Family members, public officials and residents of Prince George's County remembered County Council member Isaac J. Gourdine during funeral services yesterday as a man who "fought a good fight" for his constituents and friends.
Some 2,000 people filled the rotunda of Ebenezer African Methodist Episcopalian Church in Fort Washington to remember their friend and colleague who died Monday in an automobile accident.
"From the day Ike got to Prince George's County he fought a good fight for the children and his constituents," said State's Attorney Jack Johnson, holding back tears.
Mr. Gourdine and Mr. Johnson had been best friends since childhood, growing up together in South Carolina.
As the choir of 156 voices sang the old hymn "I'll Fly Away" the mourners clapped and sang spiritedly, "God took him by the hand; he's going home."
"This is a home-going celebration," said the Rev. Jo Ann Browning, who presided over the services.
Rep. Albert R. Wynn, Maryland Democrat, told mourners Mr. Gourdine deserved to be remembered.
"We should make a memorial to him, perhaps naming a school after him or a county building," Mr. Wynn said.
Mr. Gourdine, 56, was a champion of education during his two terms on the County Council.
The Gourdine family announced the establishment of an Isaac J. Gourdine Educational Scholarship Fund to provide money for Prince George's students going on to college.
Scores of public officials attended the service, including Prince George's Council Vice Chairman Dorothy F. Bailey, and U.S. Sen. Paul S. Sarbanes, Maryland Democrat. Also attending were the Rev. C. Anthony Muse and the Rev. Harry Seawright.
There wasn't enough time for every friend and political supporter to pay tribute to Mr. Gourdine's life and work.
Maryland Delegate Carolyn Howard, Prince George's Democrat, attempted to sum up Mr. Gourdine's view of life, saying: "What's right is not always popular and what's popular is not always right; that was Ike's motto."
Students from Oxon Hill High School's band and choir performed during the ceremony. Mr. Gourdine recently got money for new uniforms for the two groups.
County Executive Wayne K. Curry said he will make sure that the high school also gets a new gymnasium the object of one of Mr. Gourdine's recent crusades for improving schools.
"You never had to question Ike's motives. … Children were his greatest passion," Mr. Curry said.
The county's school board vice chairman, Marilynn Bland, was riding with Mr. Gourdine Monday and was injured in the accident. She was unable to attend.
One of the most moving tributes came from Carl Gordon, Mrs. Bland's brother.
"If it wasn't for Mr. Gourdine I wouldn't be the man I am today, and I wouldn't be going to law school," Mr. Gordon said with tears in his eyes.
So emotional was Mr. Gordon that he had to be helped along by Ms. Browning as he struggled through his eulogy.
"Mr. Gourdine did things for me that you would only expect a father to do for you," he said. "He took me in and gave me a chance when no one else would."
Mr. Gourdine's casket was draped with the American flag. As a veteran of the Vietnam War, Mr. Gourdine will receive a full military burial when his remains are laid to rest Monday in Charleston, S.C.
Wesley E. Gourdine Jr. spoke about his brother's life, while the family's patriarch, Wesley, Sr., looked on.
"My brother was a man of principal and integrity and he was a dedicated worker," Wesley Gourdine said.
"He grew up in a segregated society, but instead of clinging to that, he was dedicated to fighting for a better tomorrow," he said.


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