Christa Beverly, lawyer and wife of former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, dies

Christa Beverly, a longtime civil rights lawyer and the wife of former Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker III, died Saturday, he said. She was 61.

“Today I lost the love of my life, my best friend, and the source of all my strength,” Baker said in a tweet.


No cause of death was given, but Beverly had suffered from Alzheimer’s disease for many years. She was diagnosed in 2010 with early onset dementia.

Known once as an often-blunt-spoken attorney and a significant presence in Prince George’s, Beverly had maintained an informal career as the closest political adviser to her husband, a major figure in Maryland politics.


The two were college sweethearts.

After serving two terms as county executive, Baker lost a bid for the Democratic gubernatorial nomination in 2018 but plans to try again.

“He’s running hard,” said Jolene Ivey, a family friend and prominent Prince George’s political figure.

“She was our rock — the absolutely best mother to my kids and wife to me,” Baker said in the tweet. “She spent her life fighting injustice, inequities and, for the last decade, illness with grace and grit.”

In another tweet, Baker said, “The sorrow we feel today is comforted by the legacy of joy she brought to our family and community throughout her entire life.”

“We are so blessed to have had so much time with her on earth. We will continue our fight” against Alzheimer’s as well as racism “and make this world better in her honor.”

Beverly’s struggle with Alzheimer’s played a role in politics in Prince George’s.

At one point in the county executive race in 2010, Baker wondered whether he should drop out. But his wife, then fully aware of events around her, insisted that he stay in.


“You are going to win,” she told him, presciently. “I am going to see you put your hand on the Bible as county executive.” A few months later, Baker was sworn in.

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The couple had a way of blending care for her with concerns about the county. In 2012, when she had trouble sleeping, they would drive around the county, scrutinizing neighborhoods and public works projects. Eventually, she became sufficiently tired to sleep.

The Bakers met at Howard University. She went to law school at the College of William and Mary. They lived for a time in the District before moving to Cheverly. The couple had three children.

In a Feb. 11 posting on the website of the Alzheimer’s Association, Baker told much of their story.

Beverly’s father had been in the military, he wrote, so she was born in Germany and started school in France.

Their first date, he said, was at a “Mostly Mozart” concert at the Kennedy Center, where she was working at the time.


Known as “Cissy,” Beverly went on to be a government affairs director for the United Negro College Fund and to work as a congressional staff member.

By 2016, it was reported that she no longer walked and had not spoken for more than a year, but family members said she continued to find ways to communicate with them and show that she knew them.