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Thomas D'Alesandro III, Nancy Pelosi's brother and former Baltimore mayor, has died at age 90

Former Baltimore Mayor Tommy D'Alesandro III seen at the 2010 Columbus Commemoration. Amy Davis/The Baltimore Sun via AP

Thomas D'Alesandro III, the eldest brother of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and former mayor of Baltimore, has died Sunday. He was 90.

"My husband Paul and our entire family are devastated by the loss of our patriarch, my beloved brother, Thomas D'Alesandro III," Pelosi said in a statement. "Tommy was the finest public servant I have ever known."

The Baltimore Sun reported that D'Alesandro died of a stroke in his North Baltimore home.

Known as "Young Tommy," D'Alesandro came from a Maryland political dynasty. He was the son of Thomas D'Alesandro Jr., who served as a U.S. congressman from Maryland and later as Baltimore's mayor for 12 years. His youngest sibling and only sister, Pelosi, was the first female House speaker and is now in that role for a second time.

D'Alesandro served in the U.S. Army before entering politics on the Baltimore City Council, eventually becoming its president. He was Baltimore's mayor for one term, from 1967 to 1971.

Just four months into his term, race riots erupted in Baltimore over the assassination of Dr. Martin Luther King. Maryland Governor Spiro Agnew — who would later serve as vice president to Richard Nixon — called in the National Guard during the riots.

As mayor, D'Alesandro appointed several African Americans to administrative positions for the first time, and he presided over the passage of civil rights legislation.

"I don't say this braggadociously, but I don't believe there's any white man in Baltimore that knew more about the black community than I did," D'Alesandro told NPR in a 2008 interview.

"We were rolling. We were doing good," he added. "We thought we were in great shape. And notwithstanding all of that, we still weren't strong enough to stop the riots. I don't think there was anything anybody could do to stop them.

He chose not to seek a second term, and practiced law after leaving politics.

Current Baltimore Mayor Bernard Young praised D'Alesandro for "removing racial barriers in employment and education," and for laying the legislative groundwork for the development that became the city's famous Inner Harbor.

"All his life, Tommy worked on the side of the angels," Pelosi's statement said. "Now, he is with them. With his commitment to his family and public service, his life has truly blessed America."

D'Alesandro is survived by his wife Margaret, five children and 10 grandchildren.

In this January 5, 2007, file photo, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, D-California, left, laughs as her brother Thomas D' Alesandro III, right, makes a joke as he introduces her husband Paul, during a street renaming ceremony in her behalf, in Baltimore. AP
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