A few years ago, I ran into Terry Curry at a basketball game.
It was at Speedway High School. My daughter’s team was playing the Sparkplugs when the then-Marion County prosecutor walked in.
We spotted each other and waved. Curry walked over and sat down beside me.
We exchanged pleasantries and told a few jokes while we watched the game. He asked which player my daughter was. I pointed her out. He said some nice things about her.
I asked if he had a daughter playing in the game.
“No,” he said and laughed.
He was at the game because his goddaughter was playing for Speedway. Her parents couldn’t make the game, so he had come to cheer for her.
We chatted for a few more minutes, then wished each other luck regarding the game and shook hands. He walked over to sit with some of the Speedway fans.
At the time, I thought of it as just another sign of how nice a guy Terry Curry was. Being the prosecutor in the state’s largest county is backbreaking work. It’s a job in which one is never off the clock.
And Curry chose to spend some of his precious moments of private time to attend a high school girls basketball game and root for his goddaughter.
That impression hasn’t changed, but it has deepened and grown more complex.
In addition to being demanding in terms of hours worked and energy expended, being a prosecutor also can be emotionally and psychologically draining. Prosecutors rarely see humanity at its finest.
Again and again and again, they must wade into situations in which someone has done something despicable or depraved or both. They deal with murderers, rapists, child molesters and many other human predators.
It is a dark world in which they must work.
Staying balanced — staying sane — can’t be easy.
Maybe attending a high school basketball game and cheering for a good friend’s daughter served as a kind of antidote to that darkness.
I hope so because the world in which Curry worked had to be depressing at times.
A couple of years before I ran into him at the basketball game, he appeared on a radio show I hosted. He was talking about problems with police staffing and the threats such shortages presented to public safety. He also described how demoralizing it was for officers and those who cared about law enforcement to work shorthanded for long stretches.
Less than 24 hours after we went off the air, an Indianapolis police officer responded to a domestic dispute. It involved a man threatening a woman and a child with a gun.
The officer went through the door. The man shot him. The officer returned fire and wounded the man, then another officer shot and killed the man.
Later, the officer died.
I wrote a column about the shooting. I noted that Curry had talked about how police staffing shortages put everyone at risk — but particularly police officers, such as the one who just had been shot and killed.
Curry called me after the column appeared. He told me about how hard it had been to talk with those who loved the fallen officer — family, friends, colleagues — and about how dispiriting it was to see a good man die.
As Curry spoke, his voice cracked.
That’s one reason I was glad he was prosecutor. Make no mistake about it, he was tough as a piece of old bark. He could be a bulldog when it came to enforcing the law and pursuing justice.
But there also was a decency to the man one doesn’t always find in public officials.
He was the kind of guy who had to fight back tears when talking about a young life being snuffed out.
And he was the sort of fellow who would show up to cheer for his goddaughter at a high school basketball game when her parents couldn’t be there.
Terry Curry died last week after a long, hard battle with prostate cancer. He was 72.
May he rest in peace.
John Krull is director of Franklin College’s Pulliam School of Journalism and publisher of TheStatehouseFile.com, a news website powered by Franklin College journalism students. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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