Wayne County sheriff suffers fatal heart attack
Posted January 24
Goldsboro, N.C. — Carey A. Winders, longtime sheriff for Wayne County, died after suffering an apparent heart attack early Friday, officials said. He was 57.
Winders was first elected sheriff in 1994, becoming the first Republican to hold the post.
County officials said Winders is believed to have had a “massive heart attack” while at home. He was treated by county emergency workers and taken to Wayne Memorial Hopsital, where he was pronounced dead.
“With heavy hearts, the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office is announcing that Sheriff Carey A. Winders passed away this morning,” officials said in a statement. “Please keep Sheriff Winders’ family and the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office in your prayers.”
Funeral arrangements are pending.
Winders was born in Wayne County and graduated from Charles B. Aycock High School in 1975, according to the sheriff's website. He married Teresa Sullivan in 1981, and they had three daughters. Last year, his two granddaughters were born.
He started his law enforcement career as a patrol officer with the Goldsboro Police Department in 1984 and worked his way up to investigations. In 1993, he announced his candidacy for sheriff with the goal of modernizing the agency.
Maj. Tom Effler, who has worked at the sheriff's office for 31 years, said Winders was someone he could easily talk to, even if they didn't agree.
"He took his job seriously," Effler said. "He looked after his personnel, and he looked after his county."
He said Winders was a presence in the sheriff's office.
"We knew when he was in our building. I mean, he'd come in with his cowboy boots, and he'd be walking down the hall slapping all the time," Effler said.
From Mount Olive to Parkstown, Winders relished being out in the community and rarely turned down an invitation to a fundraiser or event.
"We used to tell him, 'You need to cut back on this stuff,'" Effler said. "But you couldn't tell him that. He went to everything."
He said news of Winders' death came as a shock. The sheriff was getting ready for another day at work when he collapsed.
"He was very much a people person," Goldsboro resident Crystal Quick said. "He'd do anything for anybody. Nobody will be able to fill his shoes at all."
Maj. Fane Greenfield will serve as interim sheriff until county commissioners can appoint a permanent replacement to fulfill the remainder of Winders' term.
News of Winders' death sparked an outpouring of condolences across social media. Bodies Unlimited lnc., a Pikeville fitness center, posted a poem on its Facebook page with the message: "In honor of a fallen hero and a dedicated gym member, Carey Winders. You will truly be missed my friend."
Gov. Pat McCrory also offered condolences and support to Winders' family.
"Sheriff Winders was a beloved member of his community, held in high esteem and admired for his faith, values and love for his family," McCrory said in a statement. "His service to Wayne County since 1994 made his community a better place to live, work and play."