Hempstead's man with the smile, Tyree Curry, a school administrator, photographer, musician and disc jockey, died Monday of cancer at his home in Freeport. He was 70.
"He was jovial, with an infectious smile that left no doubt that he enjoyed your company," said Hempstead Trustee Perry Pettus.
Curry was closely associated with Hempstead, where he served in the school system for 32 years, beginning in 1969. He was a teacher at the Jackson Main Elementary School and Hempstead Middle School. He then went on to become the assistant principal at Schultz Middle School, principal at Jackson Main and at Schultz, and, lastly, an assistant superintendent.
Retired Hempstead school administrator Sally Thompson called Curry "a peacemaker."
"I remember at some of our principal meetings, we would be going at it, and Tyree would listen a while, then step in with a suggestion with which everybody could agree. He made sense, too," said Thompson.
Thompson and Curry also served together on a village education board created by Long Island's first black mayor, Hempstead's Jim Garner.
"It was meant to be a link between the village and the schools, over which we had no authority," he said. "Tyree was a great guy there and everywhere else that I knew him.
Garner hired him as the village's official photographer. Village Mayor Wayne Hall, who succeeded Garner in 2005, kept Curry on.
"He was one of the nicest men I ever met, always with a smile and a good word for everybody. He knew the village and its people, and often had great suggestions," said Hall.
The Mississippi-born Curry was a 1963 graduate of Jackson State College. A trumpet player since his high school days, his first post-college job was as band director at a Mississippi junior high school from 1964 to 1969.
"He loved the blues and B.B. King," Garner said.
Curry's family said that despite his busy schedule, he was actively involved in organizations such as the NAACP, the National Urban League and 100 Black Men of Long Island.
He is survived by his wife of 38 years, Rose; his mother, Minnie, of Freeport; a daughter, Diane, of San Marcos, Calif.; five sisters and four brothers; and two grandsons.
Viewing will be from 2 to 7:30 p.m. Sunday at the Carl C. Burnett Funeral Home in Hempstead. The funeral service will be at 11 a.m. Monday at Memorial Presbyterian Church in Roosevelt. Burial will follow at Greenfield Cemetery in Uniondale.