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Bertie mourns Bazemore’s death

WINDSOR – One of Bertie County’s most beloved public servants has passed from this life.

Three-term Bertie County Commissioner John Jasper Bazemore died last week at the age of 81. He had faithfully served his constituents in the Snakebite and Indian Woods district as well of all of Bertie County since 1994.

“First and foremost, this is a great loss for Bertie County,” Zee Lamb, Bertie County Manager, said. “Secondly, this is a personal loss for me.”

Lamb said he had known Bazemore long before taking the Bertie Manager’s job.

“I always looked at Mr. Bazemore as a person in the same mold of a Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. or a Nelson Mandela,” Lamb noted. “He was a man among men, one who never sought revenge against someone who did him wrong.

“He was always so friendly and so positive. He’ll be greatly missed. A giant void has been left with his passing,” Lamb concluded.

Following a sparkling career with the United States Department of Agriculture where he rose to the ranks of Regional Director, Bazemore retired after 30 years. However, after faithfully serving the agricultural interests in the region for such a long period of time, Bazemore was not finished as a public servant.

He successfully ran for county commissioner in 1994, later becoming the first black to serve that board as its chairman. His service was duly noted by the citizens of Bertie County who reelected Bazemore in 1998, 2002 and 2006.

“Mr. Bazemore completely understood the role of being a public servant,” Rick Harrell, current chairman of the Bertie Board of Commissioners, said. “He served his country, his church and his county extremely well and in doing so set an example we all should follow. He will be greatly missed by all of us who love Bertie County, just as he loved this county.”

Despite failing health, Bazemore sought a fourth term in office. He was just reelected during the General Election held earlier this month. He died 19 days shy of taking the oath of office for the fourth time.

“I’ve known Jasper Bazemore all my life,” Board of Commissioners Vice-Chairman Norman Cherry Sr. said. “As a matter of fact, we are distant cousins. Not only that, but we’re members of the same church (Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist) and were ordained as deacons at the church on the same day.”

Cherry noted that as long as he had known Bazemore, he never saw him change direction.

“Jasper Bazemore was who he was,” Cherry said. “What you saw was what you got. We will all miss him and miss his loyal service to the citizens of Bertie County.”

Bazemore also left a lasting impression on those just launching their political careers.

“I sat beside Mr. Bazemore during my first term in office,” Bertie Commissioner L.C. Hoggard III said. “I learned so much from him, but the most important advice he gave me, advice I still use to this very day, is that knowledge is to listen and to speak with wisdom.”

Hoggard continued, “Mr. Bazemore was such a sharp and intelligent man, but what a lot of people didn’t know was that he had a great sense of humor. Even if I was having a bad day, he could always make me laugh. I’ll miss him and so will all of Bertie County.”

Commissioner Wallace Perry also admired the service Bazemore provided to the citizens of Bertie County.

“He had Bertie County at heart and acted in the best interest of its citizens,” Perry said. “He always thought things completely through, even the simplest issues, before making a decision.”

Perry said you didn’t have to look deep into the political history of Bertie County to see the support Bazemore had from the citizens.

“When you are elected to four-year terms on four separate occasions…well, that fact alone says a lot about the character and the job performance of Jasper Bazemore. That showed he still had the support of the people he served. He was well-liked by so many from all walks of life and the service he performed for this county will be greatly missed.”

Bazemore was a U.S. Army veteran, serving overseas and at home during World War II. He later joined the USDA, first as a federal crop insurance adjuster and then a federal tobacco inspector prior to becoming the Regional Director.

He is survived by a daughter, Patricia Williams of Hampton, Va., and one grandchild.

Funeral services are scheduled for 1 p.m. on Wednesday at Mt. Olive Missionary Baptist Church with the Rev. Morris Shearin presiding. Burial will follow in Hillcrest Cemetery.