By L.A. Williams, Correspondent
Christian Action League
NEW BERN — “A dedicated public servant who was known for his deeply-held faith and the passion he brought to every aspect of his life.” That’s how House Speaker Thom Tillis (R-Mecklenburg) described the late Rep. William L. Wainwright (D-Craven) who died Tuesday after more than two decades in the Legislature.
The 64-year-old presiding elder in the African Methodist Episcopal Zion church served as House speaker pro tempore from 2007 to 2011 and was respected on both sides of the aisle, fellow lawmakers said. His death, just before 6 p.m. at Carolina East Medical Center in New Bern, followed several months of illness.
“Our hearts go out to Rep. Wainwright’s family during this difficult time,” said the Rev. Mark Creech, executive director of the Christian Action League. “We pray that God will grant his peace to them.”
Born in Somerville, Tenn., Wainwright had earned a bachelor’s degree from Memphis State University and was pastor of Piney Grove AME Zion from 1985 to 1993. Gov. Bev Perdue described him as a “great religious leader” and one of her dearest friends.
Others from Craven County also hailed his work both inside and outside of the General Assembly.
“He was such a kind, understanding and genuinely decent man, and we will really miss him and his leadership, honesty and caring for others,” Alice Underhill, a former House representative, told the Havelock News.
A “straight up 100 percent good person” who would “go to bat for anybody,” is how Ray Wood, chairman of the Craven County Board of Elections described him to the newspaper, while Jim Davis, the county’s former economic development director praised his work with Craven Community College and the Tryon Palace N.C. History Center.
Retiring Rep. Joe Hackney (D-Orange) and former Speaker of the House, said Wainwright “conducted his business at the General Assembly with as much passion as anyone I encountered during my time in office.”
“He was a talented negotiator motivated only by what was best for the people of his district,” Hackney added.
Among the last bills that the District 12 representative signed as primary sponsor this spring include one to honor Kinston’s 250th anniversary, several in support of tax relief for small businesses and one to help fund a high-risk maternity clinic at East Carolina University School of Medicine.
According to the Raleigh News and Observer, funeral services are scheduled for Saturday, July 21. For details, click here