ELIZABETHTOWN, NC (WWAY) -- A Bladen County legend is no longer with us. Wallace Leinwand died Thursday afternoon after a lengthy illness. He was 88.
In 1937, at the tender age of 13, Wallace Samuel Leinwand and his parents moved to Elizabethtown, a place he would call home for the next 75 years.
In 1942, Wallace joined the Air Force to fight for the country that had given his family so much.
"He was 18 years old when he was drafted, and actually he met my mother because of World War II," Leinwand's son Ricky said.
After the war Leinwand would do many things for Bladen County and the rest of the Cape Fear region. One of Leinwand's more notable accomplishments was heading a fundraising effort to help bring the Battleship North Carolina to Wilmington more than 50 years ago.
"He raised more money per capita per person than any other county in North Carolina, and he was so proud of that, and he became an honorary admiral for the USS North Carolina, and there is a plaque in there with his name on it," Ricky Leinwand said.
Between his endeavors as mayor of Elizabethtown and owner of the oldest and largest retail store in Bladen County, his family members say one thing gave Wallace more joy than any other: sports.
"It was hard to get my daddy out of the store, but if the Carolina Tar Heels were playing or the Elizabethtown Yellow Jackets or now the East Bladen Eagles were playing, he went to the ball games," Ricky said.
The funeral service will be Sunday at 2 p.m. at B'nai Israel Synagogue at 2601 Chestnut Street in Wilmington with a burial at the Hebrew Cemetery in Wilmington to follow. Coble-Ward Funeral Home in Wilmington will handle all funeral arrangements. In lieu of flowers, contributions can be made in honor of Wallace Leinwand to Leinwand Park, C/O P.O. Box 756, Elizabethtown, NC 28337, or to the charity of your choice.