Longtime volunteer fireman, Democratic chairman dies

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Funeral services scheduled Sunday

By Caroline Curran, Reporter

A longtime volunteer fireman, political fixture and active community member has died.

Louis Vernon Ward, 68, past chairman of the Brunswick County Democratic Party and member of the Shallotte Point Volunteer Fire Department, died June 3.

Born in Columbus County, Ward graduated from UNC Chapel Hill and was a Navy Veteran. Ward moved to Shallotte in 1980, where he taught at Brunswick Technical Institute, which is now Brunswick Community College, before later serving on its board of trustees.

Ward’s other community endeavors include serving three terms as chairman of the Brunswick County Democratic Party, volunteering as a fireman and treasurer for the Shallotte Point Volunteer Fire Department, serving on the Lower Cape Fear Hospice Board of Directors, serving on the Brunswick County Economic Development Board, serving on the Brunswick County ABC Board and serving as treasurer of the Brunswick County Adult Day Care.

Ward ran for a seat in the N.C. House of Representatives last November.

Ward was a Mason, a Shriner and a member of the First Baptist Church of Shallotte.

Funeral services were Sunday at First Baptist Church of Shallotte, with the Rev. Bob Weathers and the Rev. Landis Lancaster officiating. Interment will be in Hills of the Neuse Cemetery in Smithfield.

Community reaction

Greg White said he knew Ward for more than two decades. White, who owns Peacock Newnam and White Funeral Home in Southport, first met Ward in 1983 when he worked at Brunswick Funeral Service, where Ward was employed for more than 20 years.

“My memories of Vernon go way back before political [ties]. I know he’s been very supportive of the Democratic Party and worked very hard for the Democratic Party,” White said.

“My fondest memory of Vernon was about a year ago when I was acting as sheriff during the transition. He was very supportive of myself and Sheriff John Ingram, and those things you don’t forget.”

As the chairman of the county’s Democratic Party, Ward had the task of organizing last May’s special election to replace former sheriff Ronald Hewett. With multiple candidates and voting that lasted several rounds, “I thought he’d done a great job,” White said.

White described Ward’s death as “a loss for the community and the Democratic Party.”

Donna Silva took over the Democratic Party’s chairmanship in April.

“He was a strong and dedicated leader who gave countless hours working for and with the Democrats,” Silva said. “But more than just being our leader, he was our dear friend, and we will miss him.”

“He was a dear, dear man, and I’m going to miss him a lot.”

See the Religion page, 8C, today for a tribute to Ward by columnist Fran Salone-Pelletier.