LUMBERTON — Leon Maynor, the longest-serving member of the Lumberton City Council, died on Monday at Duke Medical Center after a nearly two-week battle following an apparent heart attack.
Maynor, the representative of Precinct 7, joined the City Council in 1995. Maynor’s sixth term on the council was to have expired in December 2019.
“He will be sorely missed,” Mayor Bruce Davis said. “He was a great leader.”
He served on several committees, including the Small Business committee for the National League of Cities, Davis said.
“He was very involved in his precinct,” Davis said. “He was an exceedingly hard worker during Hurricane Matthew and the recovery period. He worked where he was needed to get people back in their homes. He did a lot of work with faith-based construction groups and the West Lumberton Kiwanis Club.”
Maynor brought a lot of talent to the City Council, the mayor said.
“I’ll miss him. He was a good friend,” Davis said. “We had great working relationship. We didn’t always agree, but we were always friends.”
City Council member John Cantey also was saddened by Maynor’s death.
“His death is a total loss to the state, county, city and citizens of his precinct,” Cantey said. “He was the backbone of the council, and we worked closely together.”
Maynor took seriously the issues and items that came before the City Council, Cantey said. He provided leadership and guidance to the council. The council members depended on him for a wealth of knowledge that is now lost.
Precinct 7 was hit hard by Hurricane Matthew on Oct. 8, 2016, forcing the closure of West Lumberton Elementary School. The week before he fell ill on June 20, Maynor, a retired educator, appeared before the school board and made a passionate plea that the school not be closed, saying reopening the school was the key to getting displaced residents to return to the West Lumberton community.
Cantey said Maynor was very worried about the victims of Hurricane Matthew and about how to get them back in their homes.
“I’m still in shock,” Cantey said. “He cared so much for the employees of the city. He insisted on getting playgrounds for the youth. The citizens were his top priority.”
Maynor also worked to get a bigger raise for city employees. Cantey said his last conversation with Maynor was about citizens and employees.
“He was one of a kind, and will be missed,” Cantey said. “I’ll look to the right, and he won’t be there.”
His precinct was perhaps the largest in Lumberton and covered a twisting swath of the city along Carthage Road and West Fifth Street, parts of Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard, along Interstate 95 where the precinct takes in the planetarium and Pinecrest Country Club, before looping into an area around the Robeson County Sheriff’s Office.
“Leon loves Lumberton and West Lumberton and he has used his time on the council to work to make them better places to live,” his wife Jan said shortly after he became ill.
Maynor’s civic record includes being a former member of the North Carolina Electric Cities Board, serving as chairman of the Robeson County Partnership for Children and the vice chairman of the Robeson Juvenile Crime Prevention Council. He was a member of the Lumber River Rural Transportation Committee and has served on the Airport Commission.
Erich Hackney served four terms on the council with Maynor.
“There was not another person who sat around the council table more passionate about who he called ‘his people’ than Leon and I was truly blessed to have been able to serve with him for 16 years,” Hackney said. “He always had the west side’s best interest in mind and served our city with honor. To say he will be missed is truly an understatement.”
Maynor worked for decades for the public schools, as a teacher and as an administrator. He also worked as a referee, officiating various sports in recreation leagues and in the public schools.
His older brother Glenn served as the county sheriff from 1994 to 2005.
The Robeson County Board of Commissioners during its regular meeting held a moment of silence for Maynor and also Michael McDonald, the county’s interim attorney who is gravely ill at Duke. He became ill on June 25.
Managing Editor T.C. Hunter can be reached at [email protected] or 910-816-1974.