In Memory of Walter McNeil, Jr

McNeilWalter McNeil, Jr. was the first Black person elected to Sanford City Council and became the longest serving Council member in the City's history.

Sworn into office in January 1981, McNeil served Ward 4 for 33 consecutive years including three terms as mayor pro tem: December 1993 through December 1997 and December 2005 through December 2007.

McNeil was appointed to the Board of Directors of the N.C. League of Municipalities for 2005-06. As a board member, McNeil represented and advocated for the seventh district, which includes the cities and towns in Lee, Harnett, Cumberland, Hoke, Moore, Sampson, and Scotland counties.

A tireless champion of Sanford and its residents, McNeil started Sanford’s National Night Out crime prevention program in 1993. He was a guiding force in bringing parks to local neighborhoods. The Walter H. McNeil, Jr Park in Ward 4 was named after him by the community as a show of gratitude for his support and dedication.

McNeil was a retired educator who received his B.A. in Education from Winston-Salem State University and an M.A. in Administration from North Carolina A&T State University in Greensboro. 

McNeil was serving in office when he died on March 30, 2014. Sanford City Council and members of staff remembered his impact and legacy at the Tuesday, April 1, 2014 regular Council meeting. McNeil's dedicated service was honored with a resolution on April 14, 2014. 

McNeil was inducted posthumously into the Order of the Long Leaf Pine Society in March 2014. Rep. Robert Reives presented the award to McNeil's wife Billie and son Michael on August 5, 2014.