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Melody Currey, lawmaker, mayor and commissioner, dies at 71

Melody Currey in undated file photo from her time as a state commissioner.
Melody Currey in undated file photo from her time as a state commissioner.

Melody A. Currey, who always seemed to find her own way as a blunt practitioner of politics in 25 years as a state lawmaker, East Hartford mayor and state commissioner, died Monday as her husband drove her to a dialysis appointment.

“She and Dad were on the way to the appointment this morning,” said her son, state Rep. Jeff Currey, D-East Hartford. “They were at a red light. The sun came out. She said, ‘I can’t do this. I love you.’ And she died.”

Jeff Currey took a deep breath, cried a little and laughed a little.

“She always did things the way and when she wanted,” he said.

Melody Currey was 71, a native of New York who took well to the politics of her adopted home, East Hartford.

She was elected to the state House in 1992, serving as a deputy leader. She left after her election as mayor in 2005.

In January 2011, she joined the administration of Gov. Dannel P. Malloy in its first days, serving as commissioner of motor vehicles in Malloy’s first term, then commissioner of administrative services in his second.

As the commissioner of administrative services, Currey oversaw a complex series of purchases and renovations that moved state agencies from expensive leased space.

After the purchase and renovation of an office building on Farmington Avenue in Hartford and the two-tower Connecticut River Plaza downtown, the State Office Building near the Capitol was emptied and gutted.

On a hard-hat tour of the River Plaza complex she conducted for Malloy in 2016, she noted with satisfaction that her 15th-floor office in one tower would be higher than the one slated for Kevin Sullivan, the former Senate leader who was Malloy’s commissioner of revenue services, a reflection of long-standing House and Senate rivalries.

“I told Sullivan, ‘I always wanted to look down on you,’” she said, smiling that day.

Malloy and former Lt. Gov. Nancy Wyman were among those to call Jeff Currey with condolences on Monday. Services were incomplete.

Currey is survived by her husband, Don; three children, Jeff, Becky and Matt; and six grandchildren. Melody and Don Currey celebrated their 50th anniversary in October.

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