Jeffrey A. Paige, who served West Baltimore neighborhoods in the House of Delegates, died of complications of open-heart surgery Tuesday at the University of Maryland Medical Center. The Irvington resident was 57.
He was a member of the House of Delegates from early 1999 to January 2007 and represented the 44th District, an area from Morrell Park to Druid Hill Park.
Born in Baltimore and raised in Sandtown-Winchester, he was the son of Baltimore City Council member and chief Liquor Board inspector Sterling A. Paige and Josephine Marie Robinson Paige, a city Health Department worker.
As a young man, Mr. Paige aspired to become a professional boxer and trained at a West Baltimore gym. Poor vision prevented him from pursuing a professional career. He also enjoyed martial arts and kick boxing.
"He was a wonderful brother and a better friend," said his brother, Douglas K. Paige, acting director of the Baltimore City Liquor Board.
He was a 1974 graduate of Frederick Douglass High School and earned an associate's degree in business management from Baltimore City Community College.
Mr. Paige worked as a trust officer in the Baltimore City Register of Wills office. He became interested in politics as a young man and was involved in the Citizens Democratic Action Organization, based in West Baltimore. He was elected to the Baltimore City Democratic State Central Committee and served from 1988 to 1998, including a four-year term as vice chairman. He was also a member of the Pennies Against Drugs Campaign Committee and the 44th Legislative District Senatorial Scholarship Committee.
"He was a community activist who listened to the issues he heard from the people who lived near him. He was a great listener," said Arlene B. Fisher, a member of the Democratic State Central Committee. "I remember him being with his father in the old 39th District. I can see Jeffrey as a boy, 10 or 11, handing out literature during parades."
He was elected to a seat in the House of Delegates in 1998 alongside Ruth Kirk and Verna Jones-Rodwell. Friends said he made a specialty of constituent service and helping students get state scholarships.
"Jeffrey was a determined person who was also committed. He did things differently," said Ms. Jones-Rodwell, who is now a state senator. "He was solid. He was more of a community person and public servant. He didn't need to hear himself talk and was effective in getting things done. He didn't need to take the credit for anything. He was grass-roots-oriented. He came in, did his job and went back to the community. He was a hard worker."
She recalled him as a man of integrity and as a family person.
"He did what was true to his heart," she said.
Mr. Paige liked meeting people and campaigning.
"Politics to us was a family affair," said his daughter Charisse Paige, who lives in Baltimore. "My father helped my grandfather. We would all be out on Saturdays at the crack of dawn. We would have on our 'Vote for Paige' T-shirts. We enjoyed it. It may have been work, but it was fun."
Ms. Paige described her father as an "easygoing, humble man who always had a smile on his face." He lived in Irvington, where she said neighbors called him the "mayor" of the Southwest Baltimore community.
"My dad was my Superman — and he was real," she said.
She said he was a self-taught reader "who knew a little about everything." She also recalled him as a "problem-solver" who could fix a watch band or offer advice in a relationship.
Mr. Paige served on numerous state committees. He was also a member of the Task Force to Study Criminal Offender Monitoring by Global Positioning Systems.
He lost his seat in the 2006 primary. After leaving the House of Delegates, he worked in the state's Home Owners Tax Credit Program.
Mr. Paige fished throughout the region — at Wilde Lake in Columbia, the old Severn River Bridge and at Emporia, Va., where family members lived.
A memorial service will be held at 11 a.m. Monday at Union Baptist Church, 1219 Druid Hill Ave.
In addition to his brother and daughter, survivors include his fiancee, Tanya Brooks; a son, Jared Butler; two other daughters, Tia Butler and Morgan Paige; another brother, William Alfred Paige; four sisters, Ethel Wright, Jacqueline Reaves, Yvonne Scott and Wendy Paige; and seven grandchildren. All the survivors reside in Baltimore. His marriage to Maria Crawford ended in divorce.