Wanda Lockridge holding a portrait of her with William Lockridge. (Shevry Lassiter/The Washington Informer)

“To have and to hold, to love and to cherish, till death do us part.” 

A solemn commitment maintained by Wanda and William Lockridge from the wedding day in 1989, until he was called ‘from labor to reward’ in 2011. 

Wanda and William were introduced by a mutual friend at a political meeting in the early 1980s.

A native of Washington, Wanda grew up in the District of Columbia, while William relocated to the area from Chicago. 

Wanda held her first elective position as an ANC Commissioner and William had been active in local politics in Chicago.

Their love of politics and community engagement brought them together, and the rest is history.

Reflecting on their wedding day Saturday, July 8, 1989, Wanda smiles.  “It was about eight years before I actually married William.  It took us a while. He asked me twice to marry him before I actually said yes.  For me, once I said I do, it was going to be forever,” she said.

The family lived in Southeast. Over the years, William taught Biology at Ballou Senior High School and coached the wrestling team before serving on the State Board of Education.  Wanda’s professional career included employment at the US Chamber of Commerce, in addition to holding elective office as the Chairwoman of the DC Democratic State Committee.

Wanda recalls being in the basement with William, feeling jetlag having just returned from Cameroon the previous day, and napping on the couch. “I remember him putting a cover over me,” says Wanda.  “The next thing I knew, I heard him calling my name and he had suffered a major stroke.”

She stayed at the hospital by his side and only went home to change clothes for a candlelight vigil. 

The vigil, held at George Washington University Hospital was attended by former Mayor Vincent Gray, DC Councilmembers, State Board of Education members, and a great number of family and friends.

William passed away five days later, on January 12, 2011, with Wanda at his bedside, holding his hand as he took his last breath.

When asked what she misses most about William, she said his love of her, his family, his laughter, and his dedication to the children in the community. She especially misses him during the political season. 

For those who lose a spouse, she says, “Take your time and grieve in your own way. Talk it out. Cry it out. But don’t lose yourself. Be patient and kind to yourself.”

A library has been named after William, along with a baseball field, and the street where he lived with his family bears his name. Discussions are underway to rename the auditorium at Ballou in his name.

“The love I had for William still runs very deep. He is not here present but is here in spirit.”

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Austin R. Cooper Jr.

Austin R. Cooper, Jr., serves as the President of Cooper Strategic Affairs, Inc. The firm provides legislative, political and communications counsel in Washington, D.C., for governmental, nonprofit and...

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