Chairman Elijah Cummings died at the age of 68 on Thursday (October 17). He leaves behind his children and wife of more than a decade, Maya Rockeymoore Cummings, a chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party.
In a heartfelt statement, the chairwoman remembers her husband as “an honorable man who proudly served his district and the nation with dignity, integrity, compassion and humility.”
“He worked until his last breath because he believed our democracy was the highest and best expression of our collective humanity… I loved him deeply and will miss him dearly.”
Rep. Cummings died due to long-term health complications.
He was the chairman of the House Oversight and Government Reform Committee and represented Maryland’s 7th District for 23 years.
Until the day he died, Cummings lived in an inner-city neighborhood impacted by poverty and crime, the Washington Examiner reports.
In 2017, he had heart surgery followed by hospitalization in early 2018. Cummings never returned to Congress after undergoing a heart procedure at Johns Hopkins Hospital in September.
Rep. Cummings died at Johns Hopkins Hospital, according to the statement from his office.
Rockeymoore and Cummings were married in 2008. Ten years later, in 2018, she posted a photo from their wedding on Instagram, calling him the man of her dreams.
“Throwback photo. #happiness #marriage #manofmydreams,” she captioned that loving photo.
Rockeymoore was 20 years his junior when they married. The couple never had any children, but she became the stepmother to Cummings' three adult children from previous relationships.
Mrs. Cummings was a consulting firm owner at Global Policy Solutions, “a social change strategy firm dedicated to making policy work for people and their environments,” according to the company’s website.
She briefly entered the race for Maryland governor in 2017, according to the Associated Press, but due to her husband’s declining health she dropped out of the race in January of 2018 and stated that she needed to suspend her campaign “due to personal considerations.”
By December of that year, she became the chairwoman of the Maryland Democratic Party.
Rep. Cummings was a father of three, “a daughter he had with his then-estranged wife and two children he had with other women,” according to the PhillyTrib, Heavy reports.
His daughters’ names are Jennifer and Adia Cummings. Jennifer is the oldest from his first marriage to Joyce Cummings.
“Elijah celebrating an early Father’s Day with his daughters,” Rockeymoore captioned a photo on Instagram.
She is the senior director of communications at Business Roundtable, according to Heavy.
According to CNN, Adia made headlines when she became a Lyft driver and used her father’s car with Congressional license plates to operate.
“In an effort to earn some extra money to pay her expenses at school, she signed up for a part-time position with one of the ride-sharing companies,” Cummings told CNN at the time. “They, in turn, gave her a sticker to apply to the windshield of the car.”
Rockeymoore posted another photo of Cummings and his daughters with the Obamas, writing, “Elijah and his beautiful daughters, Jennifer and Adia, celebrate the final White House Christmas party with the Obamas.”
He also has a son who lived in Baltimore, the Baltimore Sun reports.
His son, the second oldest, and Adia, the youngest child, are “two children he fathered by other women out of wedlock -- a 16-year-old son and a 4-year-old daughter,” according to the Baltimore Sun.
It’s unclear what his son’s name is or any other details about him.
Cummings had financial problems for several years reportedly due to the child support he was paying.
The Congressman was one of seven children to his mother, Ruth Elma Cummings, and his father, Robert Cummings Sr. His siblings are Robert Cummings Jr., Charnel Cummings, Cheretheria Blount and Diane Woodson, all of Baltimore; James Cummings of Woodbridge, VA, and Yvonne Jennings of Hartford, CT, according to the Baltimore Sun.
The chairman’s pursuit of justice was heavily influenced by his upbringing.
Ruth was born in South Carolina in 1926 and was very spiritual. One of 17 children, Ruth would pray to the cows while working in the fields, according to Afro.com.
She later went on to run Victory Prayer Chapel, which she grew out of her basement into two churches in Baltimore that serve the poor, Heavy reports.
Ruth died in 2018, and the congressman remembered his mother fondly.
“My mother was one of the smartest, most thoughtful and loving people I have ever known,” he told Afro.com at the time. “She created a home for me, my dad and my six siblings where God was at the center and love overflowed.”
Nearly two decades before Ruth’s passing, Robert Cummings Sr., the son of sharecroppers who also worked in the fields instead of going to school as a young boy, passed away in 2000.
He had worked as a laborer “for 42 years with W.R. Grace before retiring in 1989,” according to his obituary in the Baltimore Sun. He died at the age of 74 after “giving a sermon at a woman’s detention center,” the PhillyTrib reported.
“My father was a great inspiration to me,” Cummings told the Baltimore Sun at the time. “He taught us nothing was impossible, despite his limited education. He spent his life believing in education and emphasized that we had to be in school every day.”
When going through his father’s things, Elijah found a note he had written to him with lyrics from the song “Wind Beneath My Wings,” which he carried until the day he died.
It read, “Did you know that you’re my hero, and everything I’d like to be. I can fly higher than an eagle because you are the wind beneath my wings.”
Following the congressman’s passing on Thursday (October 17), the Maryland Democratic Party spokesperson released a statement, “Our hearts are broken over the loss of such a dynamic figure in American politics. And we ask the public and the press to allow Maryland Democratic Party Chair Dr. Maya Rockeymoore Cummings and the rest of the Cummings family time and space to grieve their loss.”
(Photo: Maya Rockeymoore Cummings Instagram)