From Ebony Magazine, 1975.
Our series of Black History month profiles continues with a look at the life of Dervey Augusta Lomax, who in 1973 became the first African-American elected as Mayor of College Park, Maryland. Born in Berwyn, Maryland on December 20, 1923, Lomax was the son of Charles and Etelka Johnson Lomax. A student in the Lakeland, Maryland schools, Dervey A. Lomax was a veteran of WWII, being stationed in the Pacific Theater from 1943-46. Serving at Pearl Harbor, Guadalcanal, and Okinawa, Lomax became familiar with early military electronics during his service and after his return from duty was hired by the U.S. Naval Department in 1948. His three-decade-long tenure with the navy saw him become a supervising electronic technician with the Naval Electronic Systems Security Engineering Center.
Dervey Lomax married in 1953 to Thelma Lifsey, to whom he was wed for over five decades. The couple would later have two sons, Gregory (born 1954) and Elston Warren (1956-2012). Following their marriage, Lomax and his wife were residents of Lakeland and in 1957 he entered local politics, winning election to the College Park city council. He would serve several terms in that body (1957-65, 1967-73 and 1979-89), a total of twenty-seven years, and his long tenure on that board saw a "successful urban renewal program for Lakeland, which includes the College Park Community Center and the Paint Branch Elementary School."
In the early 1960s, he and his wife Thelma began the fight to see their son Gregory attend a largely white elementary school in the area. After being denied admission, the Lomax's and the local NAACP chapter sought the desegregation of area schools and, following a plea to the state board of education, the Lomax's saw their son enrolled at the College Park Elementary School. The couple's second son Elston would go on to attend that school in the mid 1960s, and, following his death in 2008, Dervey Lomax was memorialized for his untiring efforts to integrate schools in Prince George's County.
In 1973 Dervey Lomax was elected as Mayor of College Park, Maryland, a noteworthy election at the time. As the first African-American to serve at that city's mayor (having been incorporated as a city in 1945), Lomax's victory over a white incumbent (William R. Reading) also saw him enter into the mayoralty of a majority white city. He would serve one two-year term and was defeated for reelection in 1975 by St. Clair "Skeeter" Reeves (1925-2000).
After leaving the mayor's office Lomax won reelection to the College Park City Council in 1979 and was active in several fraternal groups, including the Elks Lodge and the College Park Boys Club, and was president of the Prince George's County Boys Club. Sources also detail Lomax being an avid bowler and was a devoted follower of the University of Maryland, College Park's basketball and football teams. Lomax remained active in the political life of his city well into the twilight of his life, and in the 2008 election year was active locally as a booster for the presidential campaign of then-candidate Barack Obama.
Dervey Augusta Lomax died at age 84 on June 8, 2008. He was survived by his wife Thelma and his two sons and was interred at the Maryland Veteran's Cemetery in Cheltenham, Maryland. Following his passing Lomax was honored with a historical marker detailing his accomplishments, located on the Lake Artemesia Trial in College Park.