Leon Maynor, days before he fell deathly ill, stood tall before the Board of Education for the Public Schools of Robeson County and pleaded for the resurrection of West Lumberton Elementary School as the better option for the local community than its permanent closer.
He did so knowing, we are sure, that minds were made up and unlikely to bend. He said that damage to the school had been exaggerated, and that it could be salvaged at a reasonable expense, with some normalcy recaptured. He said without the school, West Lumberton residents who had fled the high waters of Hurricane Matthew would be robbed of a reason to return to their former homes, and that the community, already drained of so many former residents and commerce, would just continue to bleed until it was essentially a ghosttown.
Maynor didn’t get the answer he wanted, and following an Our View that essentially spoke of the inevitability of the school’s closing, he called us and again made his case, doing so while making it clear that he was not upset with the opinion we offered, but wanted to share additional information. Always the diplomat, Maynor was willing to listen as well as to speak.
We found him to still be determined to figure out some way to put the abandoned school back to work for the community.
Two days later, he fell ill. Twelve days after that, his struggle had ended.
Maynor’s fight for West Lumberton and the entire city was over. It was a good fight, waged over 69 years, including representing Precinct 7 on the City Council for the last 23 years. He was the longest serving councilmember at the time of his death, which demonstrates the trust his constituents had in him. His was a fight with a lot of victories.
Maynor gave to Lumberton and Robeson County in many ways, as a longtime teacher and schools administrator, dealing with troubled youth, as an official in recreation league and the public schools, and through his volunteer work with multiple organizations and nonprofits, including the Kiwanians Club of West Lumberton.
He was especially energized following Hurricane Matthew’s rude visit on Oct. 8, 2016, depressed by the devastation that it delivered to his home turf, but determined and not defeated.
Said Lumberton Mayor Bruce Davis: “He was very involved in his precinct. 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.”
If we had to pick a single word to describe Maynor, it would be likable. He was always flashing his distinctive smile, and when he asked how you and the family were doing, it was a query wrapped with genuine care, and not an idle formality. Facebook on Tuesday was flush with people expressing their condolences to Maynor’s family — he leaves a wife and two children — and also sharing their stories on how he had made their lives better. We were struck by how many people described Maynor as having been their “mentor.”
It has not been an easy time for the West Lumberton community since Hurricane Matthew, with so much having been lost and so much grieving that continues. This week there is more grieving, not only for that community, but for all of Lumberton as we have lost one of the good guys, suddenly and too soon.
Leon Maynor will be missed by many. Including us.