Longtime Democratic House Rep. William Wainwright has passed away after a long illness.
Wainwright, an ordained minister and Presiding Elder in the AME Zion church, represented Craven and Lenoir Counties for 22 years in the state House. He won his seat in 1990.
He served four years as Speaker Pro Tem under former Democratic Speaker Joe Hackney, and was Deputy House Minority Leader under Hackney in the session that just concluded. He was the first African-American Speaker Pro Tempore in the NC House since the Reconstruction era.
A source within the House Democratic caucus said Wainwright had been ill for about a year, but didn’t discuss it: “He was a very private person.”
Wainwright, 64, was reportedly admitted to hospice several days ago and passed away at 5:55 this afternoon. He’s survived by a wife and several children.
His family is still being notified, so plans for a memorial service haven't yet been confirmed. Arrangements are expected to be announced Wednesday.
Rep. Hackney issued a statement via email this evening:
“William 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. He was Speaker Pro Tem during my four years as speaker and deputy minority leader for our caucus for the past two years, but we have been friends for much longer. I will miss him.”
And current Republican House Speaker Thom Tillis added this statement:
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Rep. William Wainwright. He was a dedicated public servant who was known for his deeply-held faith and the passion he brought to every aspect of his life. He was respected by members on both sides of the aisle, and the halls of the General Assembly will not be the same without him. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and friends in this difficult time.”