By Michael Eacobacci Iii and Dan Kulin
WASHINGTON – Judith Hoyer, a Prince George’s County school official and wife of Democratic Rep. Steny Hoyer, died at home in Mechanicsville Thursday morning of stomach cancer. She was 57.
Mrs. Hoyer was the coordinating supervisor of early childhood education in Prince George’s County public schools, a position she held since 1990.
A native Washingtonian, she was well-known in Maryland school and political circles.
“Many people will recognize Judy as a supporting political wife, but we know her also as a person who gave her all to the children of Prince George’s County and Maryland,” said Gov. Parris Glendening in a written statement. Glendening and his wife, Frances, said they’ve been friends of the Hoyer family for more than 25 years.
State Senate President Mike Miller, D-Prince George’s, said he met Mrs. Hoyer when she campaigned door-to-door for her husband in the mid-1960s.
“She was a very able person and a partner with him in life as well as in politics,” Miller said. “[Hoyer] used her as a soundboard in the decisions he made. She was with him step-by- step.”
A graduate of Suitland High School in Prince George’s County, Mrs. Hoyer met her future husband, Steny, at the school in the mid-1950s.
While he went on to hold seats in the Maryland state Senate and Congress, she went on to a number of jobs in the county school system.
She worked for 10 years as a teacher, from 1961-1971. She rejoined the system in 1978 as an early education resource teacher, and later worked as an adviser, coordinator and supervisor.
She earned a master’s degree in education at the University of Maryland in 1985.
She graduated from Towson State University with a bachelor’s degree in early childhood education in 1961.
A former member of the national board of the Epilepsy Foundation, Mrs. Hoyer was herself an epileptic, said close family friend and former California congressman Tony Coelho.
Coelho said he remembers a charity fund-raiser in Prince George’s County about 10 years ago when Mrs. Hoyer asked him for a special favor. Coelho, also epileptic, was scheduled to speak at the event and Mrs. Hoyer asked him to announce to the public that she had the disorder, he said.
He added, “Judy always kept Steny’s feet on the ground.”
At a fund-raiser roast for Hoyer in Prince George’s County about three years ago, Mrs. Hoyer gave Coelho the best material to embarrass her husband with, Coelho said. She pointed out that her husband had recently started wearing cowboy boots. Not coincidentally, Hoyer’s 5th District had just been redrawn to include rural communities in Southern Maryland.
Mrs. Hoyer is survived by her husband and three daughters: Susan Taylor of Lutz, Fla.; Stefany Hemmer of Arnold, Md.; and Anne Hoyer, also of Arnold; her mother, Murilian “Jill” Pickett of La Plata, Md.; and two grandchildren, Judy Hemmer of Upper Marlboro, Md., and James Cleveland “J.C.” Taylor of Lutz, Fla.
The viewing will be held Friday, Feb. 7, at Lee Funeral Home in Clinton, Md., between 2 and 4 p.m. and 6 and 8 p.m. The funeral will be held Saturday, Feb. 8, at 10:30 a.m. at Broadview Baptist Church in Temple Hills, Md. CNS reporters Mike Householder, Kerana Todorov, Karen Masterson, Mary Schumacher and Jeannine Anderson contributed to this report. -30-