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Government & Politics

Former state Delegate Doyle Niemann dies

A flag waves on Maryland Avenue in Annapolis, near the State House. Photo by Danielle E. Gaines.

Doyle L. Niemann, who served for a dozen years in the House of Delegates and had an even longer record of public service in Prince George’s County, died Wednesday at the age of 77 at the Washington Hospital Center, his family announced on the website A former colleague said Niemann died of complications from surgery to remove a tumor.

Niemann was the classic case of a 1960s student radical who turned to community service, and eventually electoral politics, to achieve his ideals.

Former Del. Doyle Niemann (D-Prince George’s). Prince George’s County State’s Attorney’s office photo.

“He leaves behind a legacy of compassion, unity, and unwavering dedication to truth, justice, and social change,” the family said in a statement.

Niemann was an anti-war activist as a student at the University of Nebraska and later at the University of Texas, and was an active member in groups such as the Young Democrats and Students for a Democratic Society. He later traveled to Cuba as a member of the Venceremos Brigade to cut sugar cane and help support the revolution.

After college, Niemann helped launch several alternative newspapers around the country, including In These Times, a Chicago-based investigative publication that exists to this day. He was the paper’s founding managing editor.

Niemann and his wife, Karen Morrill, were married in Chicago in 1977 in the back room of a tavern with a bowling lane. Eventually, the coupled landed in Mt. Rainier in Prince George’s County, where Niemann continued his career as a writer and researcher for progressive organizations, eventually running his own communications consulting firm.

Niemann served on the Mt. Rainier City Council from 1983 to 1987, and on the Prince George’s County Board of Education from 1996 to 2002. In 1997, at the age of 50, he graduated from the University of Maryland School of Law and went to work for the Prince George’s County state’s attorney’s office, where he stayed until shortly before his death.

In 2002, Niemann was elected to a House seat in the newly-created 47th legislative district in northern Prince George’s County and held the seat for a dozen years.

“In each of these roles, he demonstrated an unparalleled ability to foster unity and build bridges across diverse communities,” the family said in its tribute. “His inclusive approach and genuine compassion touched the lives of countless individuals, leaving a mark on Maryland’s social and political landscape.”

In Annapolis, Niemann served on the Appropriations and Environmental Matters committees and passed measures to protect Marylanders from predatory fraud schemes. He was also instrumental in passing same-sex marriage legislation.

In 2014, Niemann sought an open seat on the Prince George’s County Council and lost the Democratic primary to Deni Taveras — who now represents part of his old legislative district in Annapolis — by just six votes.

At the state’s attorney’s office, Niemann specialized in prosecuting financial crimes and later became chief of operations. He worked for justice reform and advocated for juvenile justice reform legislation in Annapolis that passed in 2021.

In a Facebook post, Prince George’s County Councilmember Wanika Fisher (D), who represents the same territory Niemann did and worked with him at the state’s attorney’s office, said she was “heartbroken” by news of his death.

“He was a leader, great prosecutor, a former State Delegate and PGCPS school board member,” she wrote. “But most of all he was my friend and mentor. He will always be remembered and missed.”

Jimmy Tarlau, a former state lawmaker who also served on the Mt. Rainier City Council, called Niemann “a neighbor, good friend and a mentor in local politics. He’ll be missed by all of us.”

In addition to his wife of 47 years, Niemann is survived by three children, Cassi Niemann, Shea Niemann, and Travis Niemann, four grandchildren, and a brother. The family said details of a memorial service would be announced soon.


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Former state Delegate Doyle Niemann dies