COVID-19 has claimed the life of a former El Campo resident. Keith Wade, a special advisor to the Mayor of Houston, died Thursday at the age of 65 in Houston, after a long fight with the Coronavirus.

“A dear and beloved friend has fallen tonight at the hands of COVID-19. Keith Wade was a quiet and even-handed leader.

“He was a political strategist without comparison and many of us in public service can attribute our successes to him,” said Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee (D, Houston District 18) via a Facebook post on Thursday. “He battled this vicious virus without complaint, and he will be deeply missed. We are praying for his family and we hope that all will be comforted by the many memories we have with him and the many successes of his life. Rest in peace brother Keith.”

Wade’s family lived in El Campo for a time and his mother taught at the middle school.

Wade played track, football and basketball for the Ricebirds. In 1973, he became the only black student body president in El Campo High School history.

“He was a good kid and better than average athlete, an overachiever in everything he did,” former El Campo coach Gene Kana said. “He told us, I don’t know if it was his senior year, that he wanted to get into politics.”

After leaving El Campo, Wade went to the University of Houston where he again broke barriers and became the first black man elected president of the student government.

His first job in politics was working on former U.S. Congressman George Thomas “Mickey” Leland’s (D) congressional campaign. A behind-the-scenes worker, Wade served as a special advisor to Houston Mayors Annise Parker and Sylvester Turner.

“Our journey in politics started on the UH campus,” Mayor Turner said via a press release Thursday. “Throughout his life, Keith championed the causes of labor, people who have been disenfranchised and he advocated for the rights of people to vote.”

Wade not only assisted the Mayor’s office in Houston, but his impact was felt all around city politics with county commissioners and city counselors sharing stories on social media about how he impacted their lives.

While Wade spent his time in Houston, he would come back to El Campo and speak at class reunions.

“He was in the National Honor Society and all kinds of other societies. He was student body president and he was pretty busy and still got straight A’s,” Wayne Williams, an El Campo classmate said. “Keith was always going to be there (for us). I’m not saying just for blacks. Keith was loved by all races.”

No update has been given on where and when services will be held.

In Texas, 1,440 people have died from COVID-19, as of presstime. Wharton County has not had a death related to COVID-19, and 44 people have tested positive with 34 recovered.

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