Lee Werner

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Lee Werner

LUMBERTON — Lee Werner was born on May 19, 1924, in Long Island, N.Y., and he passed away on June 19, 2014. He grew up there and in North Carolina. After reading Zane Grey Novels as a young boy, he left home to become a cowboy. He worked as a cowboy in North Dakota for several summers. At 18 years of age Lee Werner received a full tuition scholarship to Cornell University but at the outbreak of World War II he left college to serve in the Navy. He flew off of aircraft carriers in the Caribbean and Pacific, hunting German submarines. After the war he returned to Cornell, played on the polo team and received his degree. Werner then returned to flying in the U.S. Air Force based in North Carolina and graduated from the Air Force College of Aviation Medicine and worked developing manned space flight. He met his wife, Mary Moore, in Kinston and then went to work as vice president of the Scottish Bank. He continued with the bank as First Union until he left to found the Town and Country Bank in Lumberton. Town and Country bank was the first bank with members of the Indian, black and White communities on its board of directors. Town and Country bank turned a profit years before federal banking officials said would be possible and paid shareholders a dividend. After the bank merged with Wachovia, Werner was appointed by Governor Jim Hunt to fight corruption in state agencies as Comptroller. Werner was able to clean up or cancel several state contracts but his greatest victory was sending Labor Leader Wilbur Hobby to prison for violating CEDA contracts. Werner left state government to work in real estate. Lee Werner was a celebrated local artist who worked to establish the North Carolina Museum of Art which remains one of the most outstanding art museums south of Washington, D.C. Werner was elected to serve on the boards of both, the N.C. Art Society and the N.C. Dance Theater.

Lee Werner was president of the committee to revitalize the ancient Carolina Theater into a modern civic showplace. Lee Werner also served as chairman of the Lumberton Housing authority, president of the Silk Hope Ruritan Club, elder and deacon at the First Presbyterian Church of Lumberton, treasurer of the Lumberton Chamber of Commerce, president of the Lumberton Cotillion Club and so much more. Lee Werner was a prolific and gifted painter who won numerous Best in Show awards for his art at the state and local level. He was a wonderful husband and father who always promoted art, kindness and justice.

A memorial will be held at 11 a.m. Tuesday at First Presbyterian Church of Lumberton, the Rev. Fred Rose officiating.

A gathering of family and friends will follow the service at the church fellowship hall where there will be a small showing of Mr. Werner's art work.

Online condolences may be made by visiting: .

Funeral Home
Lumberton, NC 28358
(910) 738-8144
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Published in The Robesonian from June 21 to June 22, 2014
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