ANGIER – As a nation celebrates the life of civil rights icon John Lewis this week, Harnett County residents are mourning the death of another activist who spent her life making her local community better.
Former Angier Commissioner and community leader Inez Lee died Saturday at the age of 90.
Lee most recently served her hometown as a commissioner on the town board from 2005 to 2007. She won election to the board with an overwhelming 71% of the vote.
Lee was active in the community long before her election. She won a Jefferson Award for her work, according to an article in the Harnett County News in 1986.
In the local community, she was one of the first African American members of the Harnett County Democratic Party Executive Committee. She also played a role in the establishment of the Angier Fire Department.
Lee was affectionately known in Angier as Granny by residents of all ages.
Her work included instrumental roles in several organizations including providing a clothing closet for needy residents. She was also involved in organizations helping children and disabled residents and played a major role in the founding of the Harnett County Association for Retarded Citizens.
But perhaps Lee was the most instrumental in politics. Longtime ally and former United States Sen. Robert Morgan once said Lee was a key supporter of his various campaigns in the region, recommending candidates always pay her a visit to ask for her support.
Lee was also instrumental in getting African American judges elected. Many knew her for her efforts to help minority voters gain access to polling places. She was often seen driving voters to the polls on Election Day.
“She definitely enjoyed politics,” former Angier Mayor Wanda Gregory said.
Gregory served two years with Lee.
She noted Lee’s community contributions to the board and to the town.
“The thing I will remember about Mrs. Inez was she was an honest person who really cared about her community,” Gregory said. “She was a good member of the board.”
The former mayor noted Lee’s support of law enforcement.
“She wouldn’t like the current movement to defund police departments,” Gregory said. “She was a big supporter of law enforcement and wanted to pay them well.”
Former Town Manager Coley Price also had fond memories of Lee. He served as town manager the entire time Lee served on the board.
“She was a dear friend and always had Angier’s best interest at heart,” Price said. “I spent many hours with her on her front porch talking about concerns of the town and how we all need to work together to help the community.”
Price noted Lee’s contribution to the minority population along with her husband Edgar who also served as a town commissioner earlier in his life.
“I had a great deal of respect for Mr. and Mrs. Lee who were both true advocates for the minority population and who taught me a lot about working together for the good of the community. She will definitely be missed.”
-Dunn Daily Record