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Thomas D’Alesandro III, Nancy Pelosi’s Brother, Dies at 90

Thomas J. D’Alesandro III, a former Baltimore mayor, City Council president and the brother of Speaker Nancy Pelosi, died in his North Baltimore home on Sunday. He was 90.

Ms. Pelosi’s office confirmed the death in a statement. He died from complications of a stroke, Drew Hammill, a spokesman for Ms. Pelosi’s office, said.

Mr. D’Alesandro was elected president of the Baltimore City Council in 1963 before serving one term as mayor from 1967 to 1971.

The son of Thomas D’Alesandro Jr. and Annunciata Lombardi, he was born on July 24, 1929, in Baltimore into a political family.

His father was a congressman and three-term mayor of Baltimore, and his sister, Ms. Pelosi, went on to become a congresswoman and the first female speaker of the House.

He attended Loyola High School and Loyola College, now known as Loyola University Maryland, and the University of Maryland School of Law, before serving in the United States Army from 1952 to 1955.

After his military service, Mr. D’Alesandro entered Baltimore politics as the administrative floor leader under Mayor J. Harold Grady. He went on to serve in the City Council and as mayor.

Under his leadership as mayor, civil rights laws were enacted in the city, neighborhood centers were opened and a housing and community development department was created, according to a city website.

“Tommy dedicated his life to our city,” said Ms. Pelosi, a Democrat of California. “A champion for civil rights, he worked tirelessly for all who called Baltimore home.”

He is survived by his wife, Margaret; his siblings, Nancy Pelosi and Nicholas D’Alesandro; his children, Thomas, Dominic, Nicholas, Patricia and Gregory; 10 grandchildren; and three great-grandchildren.

Mr. D’Alesandro, a Democrat, was elected mayor at a time when Baltimore’s public housing had deteriorated, crime was on the rise and the middle class was retreating to the suburbs.

During his first four months in office, he appointed more black people to posts than any predecessor had over an entire term, a city biography said.

“He was a transformational mayor,” said Peter Marudas, who served as Mr. D’Alesandro’s chief of staff. “He opened up the city politically.”

Robert Embry, who served as Mr. D’Alesandro’s housing commissioner, said Mr. D’Alesandro was a champion of civil rights.

Mr. Embry said that at a neighborhood meeting with a conservative civic group in northeast Baltimore in 1967 — just before Mr. D’Alesandro became mayor — he “was the only one in the room” to speak in favor of equal housing.

Mr. Marudas, who also served under Mr. D’Alesandro’s Republican predecessor, Theodore R. McKeldin, said that Mr. D’Alesandro’s “patience and caring” as mayor ushered Baltimore through a “very difficult period.”

The assassination of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in 1968 set off riots in Baltimore and across the country.

Several thousand National Guardsmen, 5,000 troops from the 82nd Airborne Division and 500 members of the State Police were sent into the streets to quell the violence, The Baltimore Sun reported.

The chaos left six people dead, 700 injured and 4,500 arrested. About $13.5 million worth of property was destroyed after 1,032 fires were set and 1,075 businesses were looted, the newspaper reported.

Many felt that Mr. D’Alesandro cut short his mayoral career after only four years because of the riot. But he told The Sun in 1998 that he was proud of his leadership at the time. He said, however, that being mayor did not pay enough.

“I had no money,” he told The Sun. “I was clearing only $695 every two weeks. I had five children. I couldn’t make ends meet.”

Mr. D’Alesandro said he also did not like “the social aspect of politics.”


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