BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — A familiar face has been missing for the last several weeks from the bench in her courtroom in Brunswick County. Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis is out of state getting treatment for cancer and will be gone for several more months she said.
“I arrived in Rochester, Minnesota, on November 13 with the diagnosis of a rare liver cancer,” Judge Lewis said in a statement e-mailed to WWAY. “Upon consultation with my doctors, my husband Reggie and I decided the best course of action for my health and well-being is to remain in Rochester for the duration of my treatment. The treatment is expected to last six months.”
Lewis, who has been a judge for nearly 25 years has received strong support from dozens of friends and colleagues, who have organized prayer sessions outside the courthouse. The latest gathering took place Monday afternoon.
“It gives a chance for everybody that loves and cares for Ola to come and pray,” priest, William Eberle said. “And I had this idea that maybe if we did something at the court house people could take a short time off of work and allow most people to come.”
Attorney James Payne visited Lewis Monday in Minnesota and said she is in high spirits.
“Well those who know Judge Lewis care very deeply about her. And so you have a mixture of concern for her, love for her, and respect for her,” Payne said. “The outpouring of support for her has been nothing less than phenomenal. We have people who are lined up waiting to take their turn to come up here and help take care of her.”
Payne is among many of the folks traveling to the Mayo Clinic to keep Lewis company during her treatments. He and others are making sure she knows she is loved and cared for in the greatest time of need.
“I love you Ola. That’s what I’d say. Thank you Jesus for Ola,” Eberle said.
“Of course I miss my family, my friends and the community I so love!” Lewis’s statement continued. “I sincerely appreciate the outpouring of prayers and well wishes. I walk this walk like every other in my life… with my hand in the Hand of the Man who calms the waters.”
Lewis was the youngest judge in state history when she was elected in 1993. She was also the first woman and first African-American elected to the bench in the 13th judicial district.
Last month Attorney General Josh Stein honored Lewis for her work in helping battle the opioid crisis. Lewis has been a driving force behind the Brunswick County Opioid Addiction Task Force. Sen. Bill Rabon (R-Brunswick Co.) accepted the award on behalf of Judge Lewis.
Friends have organized a fundraiser to help cover expenses for Lewis. It’s scheduled for Dec. 27 at 7 p.m. at Oliver’s on the Cape Fear in Southport. For more information call (910) 620-9892.
Read Judge Lewis’s full statement:
I arrived in Rochester, Minnesota on November 13, 2017, with the diagnosis of a rare liver cancer. Upon consultation with my doctors, my husband, Reggie, and I decided the best course of action for my health and well-being is to remain in Rochester for the duration of my treatment. The treatment is expected to last six months.
Of course I miss my family, my friends and the community I so love! I sincerely appreciate the outpouring of prayers and well wishes. I walk this walk like every other in my life….with my hand in the Hand of the Man who calms the waters.
Please know I am firm in my faith, trusting God at every turn. My spirit is bright and upbeat and I look forward to returning home wiser, healthier and full of energy ready to serve.
By His Grace I am #OlaStrong