CHESAPEAKE, Va. (WAVY) — William “Bill” Ward, who was Chesapeake’s first black mayor, has passed away Tuesday night at age 84, a city spokesperson confirms.
Ward was Chesapeake’s mayor from 1990 to 2004 when he stepped down. He was the city’s longest-serving mayor.
Before that, Ward was a member of Chesapeake City Council from 1978 to 1990.
10 on your side spoke with current Chesapeake Mayor Rick West about Ward’s legacy.
“We will remember him as a man who didn’t see color, didn’t see politics, but a man who saw what was good in people,” said West.
West says Ward was instrumental in building the Greenbrier area of the city.
“It’s been a leading economic development area for our city for all of these years,” said West. “I’m sitting in the seat that he sat in, and I go out to the area he’s been and he’s done and I’ll never replace a man like Bill Ward.”
Rep. Bobby Scott issued a statement on Ward’s passing:
It is with great sadness that I learned of the passing of former Chesapeake Mayor Bill Ward. Bill spent his entire life dedicated to the Chesapeake and Hampton Roads community. As Chesapeake’s longest serving mayor, and first and only black mayor, Bill is leaving behind a powerful legacy of bringing about positive change for the city of Chesapeake. Even when he was out of office, Bill still found ways to constantly serve his community in a variety of ways. I extend my deepest condolences to all of his friends and family.”