01/28/14 — County GOP honors Winders during service

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County GOP honors Winders during service

By John Joyce
Published in News on January 28, 2014 1:46 PM

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Ann Sullivan remembers the late Sheriff Carey Winders during a memorial service at the Wayne County Republican Party headquarters Monday night.

Members of the Wayne County GOP said Monday night people could learn a thing or two from the life of Carey A. Winders, the late sheriff of Wayne County -- and many, in fact, said they did.

Longtime Republican political organizer Ann Sullivan and friends got together at the GOP headquarters on Center Street to honor the county's top lawman Monday night.

Mrs. Sullivan said that when Winders first decided to run for office in 1994, she asked him why.

"The people of Wayne County deserve better than what they are getting," she said was his response.

He won her over with that answer and soon won over the county.

Winders became the first Republican ever to be elected sheriff in Wayne County. He would go on to win four more elections, and was planning to run again this year.

To a man, or woman, each person who stood to remember Winders said the same -- he was not a Republican or a Democrat sheriff, he was everyone's sheriff.

He did not conscript himself to his office or the Republican headquarters. He was out in the streets and in the schools and in the churches. He went into the neighborhoods and the homes of the people he intended to serve.

Ms. Sullivan remembered Winders for his early difficulty with public speaking, his cowboy boots and hat, and his unique sense of humor.

The latter endeared him universally to the people he worked with and loved.

"I worked with Carey back when he was a detective in the Goldsboro Police Department. Even then he was a practical joker -- you knew if he offered you anything not to take it," Det. Tom Flores said.

Flores could not, nor did he try, to conceal his emotion.

"I had the pleasure of working for Carey Winders, and I had the pleasure of being his friend," he said.

Winders was there for all the major events in his life, Flores said. Both professionally and personally.

"He was there when I met my wife. He was talking to her and I wanted so badly to speak to her but I had to wait ...," he said.

Thirty to 45 minutes later, Flores finally got a word in. The audience fell over themselves with laughter.

Mrs. Flores blushed.

That was Carey Winders, he said.

"Tenderhearted. Compassionate. Patient."

Former Mount Olive Area Chamber of Commerce director Joe Scott recalled meeting Winders for the first time during his first campaign.

Scott said Winders, in his boots and 10-gallon hat, kept his eyes to the floor and shuffled his feet around. He was not yet the robust public speaker he later came to be.

Scott introduced himself and Winders mumbled his name so low he was asked to repeat.

"Winders," Scott asked in feigned surprise.

"Only Winders I ever knew of were all bootleggers," Scott said,

"Might be some of my people," Winders replied.

Scott liked him right away.

Everyone seemed to like him, regardless of race, party line or criminal affiliation, Mrs. Sullivan said.

"It didn't matter if all you had was two cents or no sense at all, he was your sheriff," she said.