BALTIMORE (WJZ) — Numerous politicians honored and paid their respects on Friday to Baltimore County Executive Kevin Kamenetz, who unexpectedly died of a heart attack just the day before.
Among those who attended Kamenetz’s funeral were his Democratic primary opponents in the race for governor, Prince George’s County Executive Rushern Baker, former NAACP president Ben Jealous, Sen. Rich Madaleno and gubernatorial candidate Krish Vignarajah.
“I just saw him the night before he passed away, and just joked with him about both of using being. the same age, we’ve got busy counties and just how we needed rest,” Baker said. “So it’s a sad day for Maryland, sad day for all of us.”
County officials say Kamenetz, 60, woke up feeling ill around 2 a.m. Thursday, but instead of calling 911, he went to the Chestnut Ridge Volunteer Fire Company, which is two miles from his home in Owings Mills.
His condition quickly deteriorated as he lost consciousness and never regained it.
“I would look forward to time with him backstage. I would look forward to having him next to me. In fact, I think he was probably a class clown back in the day like I was,” Jealous said. “So he was always patient with my need to crack jokes and he’d always try to one up me.”
Kamenetz, a Baltimore County native, leaves behind a legacy of service to his community spanning decades.
“He was so vibrant. I mean, obviously you’re involved in this incredibly difficult human experience, this competition, that it’s so hard to believe that someone’s gone. It speaks to the fragility of life that one day you’re here and the next day you’re gone,” Madaleno said. The need to take time out to celebrate life.
Kamenetz is survived by his wife and two teenage sons.
“I was with him on Wednesday night, and it was a late forum that we had at Bowie Statem and at the end of the night, we jokingly said to one another, ‘See you as we go at this again tomorrow at UMBC.’ And it was heart-wrenching to come together last night at UMBC where we have a kind of memorial ad hoc for him,” Vignarajah said.
Republican Pat McDonough, who is running for Baltimore County executive, reminded everyone that politics is also a community.
“If you don’t agree philosophically, it doesn’t mean you can’t be friends and love somebody, even though they don’t agree with you or they have an opposite viewpoint,” McDonough said. “That’s the relationship I had with him.”
On Friday, Kamenetz was honored for friendship, as well as service.