Former Alabama Secretary of State and Democratic Party chairwoman Nancy Worley passed away Wednesday from an undisclosed illness. She was 70 years old.
Worley had been hospitalized in Montgomery since early December, according to Mark Worley, a family member. Mark Worley said he and his wife visited Worley the weekend before Christmas and said Nancy Worley only briefly regained consciousness during their visit.
In a Facebook post last week, Mark Worley said Nancy had improved to the point that doctors wanted to remove her from a ventilator. However, after doing so, it was obvious that Nancy would not survive.
“She just wasn’t able to breathe on her own,” Mark said. “We had hoped for better, obviously. She was kind and always kept in touch with our family on Facebook and things like that. She’ll definitely be missed.”
The family plans to hold a funeral service in New Hope next week. A public memorial service in Montgomery is being organized for the following week. Specific details on the two services were not yet available.
Worley served as secretary of state from 2003 to 2007 and ADP chairwoman from 2013 to 2019. She was also a past president of the Alabama Education Association for two stints in the 1980s and 90s.
“We are saddened to learn of the passing of Ms. Worley,” a statement from current ADP chairman Chris England read. “Ms. Worley was a great and loyal Alabama Democrat who cared deeply about the Alabama Democratic Party and the people of this state. She served the Alabama Democratic Party for decades in various roles, including as a state committee representative, vice-chair, chair, and as a DNC member.
“Nancy Worley was a true public servant and a great Democrat with a heart for the people. She will be sorely missed, and we offer our condolences to her friends and family.”
Prior to starting her political career, Worley was a public school teacher in Decatur – a profession that helped shape her goals in politics. She remained a fierce advocate for public education, and was often the driving force in the state for legislation and changes that benefitted public schools, teachers and administrators.
Following her term as secretary of state, Worley was indicted on charges for soliciting support through campaign letters from five of her employees for her failed re-election campaign. Worley’s defense attorneys accused then-Attorney General Troy King of a politically-motivated investigation, and provided evidence of other candidates sending similar letters without penalty. The charges were ultimately reduced to a single misdemeanor, to which Worley pleaded guilty and paid a $100 fine.
During her tenure as chair of ADP, Worley was often the target – unfairly at times – of criticism for the party’s rapid decline. Much of that decline was simply a product of the times, as Republicans rose to power in conservative states like Alabama. However, Worley also resisted change to the party’s minority conference and was content to uphold an outdated system that kept her in charge.
But no matter the differences of opinion on party leadership, Worley’s dedication to the Democratic Party, and to the Democratic ideals, was without question. Now was her dedication to public education and the working class people of Alabama.