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Local civil rights leader Ware remembered by family, friends

Last Modified: Thursday, April 04, 2013 7:38 PM

By Eric Cormier / American Press

Confronted with the racial hatred of the Old South, Dennis Ware stood up against the Jim Crow system and fought for civil rights and justice, even if it meant losing his life.

The 90-year-old Ware passed away Monday, leaving behind a legacy that only his family and a few friends can remember. He outlived many of his contemporaries and many of those who he was pitted against either in the meeting room or courts.

What he hoped for during his lifetime was for the world to be more peaceful, stable and equitable.

“He was just relentless in the pursuit of helping people who couldn’t help themselves,” his son, 14th Judicial District Judge Ronald Ware told the American Press. “He didn’t back down. Things he believed in he could back up intellectually. Not with force of might, but insight and passion.”

Ware’s résumé includes entries like — educator at W.O. Boston High School, longtime member of the NAACP, terms on the Lake Charles City Council, fraternity member, veteran, master’s degree recipient and outdoorsman.

If a person is not familiar with Ware, a visit to the newspaper’s archives can provide a snapshot of a large and busy life.

As far back as 1966 he was employed as a director with the Gulf Assistance Program which was tasked with helping underprivileged residents.

News clippings from 1970 tell the story of Ware, who had earlier signed his name to a public school desegregation lawsuits, being appointed to a bi-racial group whose job was “to function as a tool to carry out the plan and insure a unitary system.”

In 1971, a story recounted Ware speaking to hundreds of people protesting the firing of an African-American law enforcement officer.

A picture from an edition in June 1995 shows him standing in the center of a group of people, waving an American flag, and protesting the dedication of the South’s Defenders monument in front of the Calcasieu Courthouse.

He was quoted in 1995 explaining his reasoning for standing up for civil rights so fervently.

“If I didn’t live to see the next day, then so be it. I’m willing to pay the price for what I believe in,” he said.

Jack Bailey, 81, a close friend of Ware’s family, said the latter statement sums up Ware. He said his friend lived a life in which he walked the walk and talked the talk.

Ware taught Bailey chemistry and was also his football coach at W.O. Boston.

Bailey said Ware was a like a surrogate father to him.

“Dennis was the type of man who didn’t compromise his ideas and thoughts. He did not mind taking a medium paying job to prove a point. After I grew up, he taught me many things as a mentor and father,” Bailey said.

Bailey and Ware spent a lot of time sharing a love of nature too. Fishing was a passion for both.

“Between our families, we own six or seven boats,” Bailey said. “As he got older, Dennis wasn’t able to get in a boat, so when we went fishing we’d put him in the boat and then launch it with him in it.”

Judge Ware said fishing was just one of the practical activities that his father shared with family and friends.

“He taught us many things to survive. He wanted his kids to be able to take care of themselves. He also taught us not to be intimidated. Help people. Independence. Not relying on others to do things that we could do for ourselves,” he said.

Not being afraid of anyone was a lesson Judge Ware learned early in his life.

He recalled being a fourth grader when a group of people tried to put a burning cross on the family’s property in Lake Charles.

“We weren’t afraid. Daddy told us that ‘you know who did this,’” Judge Ware recalled. “When a battle was over, he knew when to stand down. He said when the conquest is over, you don’t take advantage of that. You grab the other side’s hands and hope they are willing to rebuild.”

Ware’s funeral service will be held Saturday at Warren United Methodist Church at 1800 Orchid St. in Lake Charles. Internment will be in Beaumont, Texas. Repast will be held at 6 p.m. at the Forman-Reynaud YMCA at 215 Albert St. in Lake Charles.

Life of Dennis C. Ware

• Born June 8, 1922 in Helbig, Texas.

Married and fathered six children.

Graduated valedictorian from Second Ward Colored High School.

Graduated from mortuary science school.

Granted bachelor’s degree in biology from Wiley College in 1948.

Granted masters of arts in educational sociology from the University of Chicago in 1955.

Honorably discharged from the U.S. Army after serving in World Ward II.

Taught at W.O. Boston High School.

Involved in Civil Rights movement in Southwest Louisiana.

Served on the Lake Charles City Council.

Posted By: the shoe On: 4/10/2013

Title: a grand old man...

.... and he had an appetite for and the talent to recognize humorous political outtakes, which even though on serious subjects, often made me howl .... R I P old friend, whom I never met .

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