Brunswick County Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis loses cancer battle

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Brunswick Co. Resident Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis (Photo: Kirsten Gutierrez)
Brunswick Co. Resident Superior Court Judge Ola Lewis (Photo: Kirsten Gutierrez)

BRUNSWICK COUNTY, NC (WWAY) — More than two years after she was diagnosed with a rare liver cancer, Brunswick County Superior Court Judge Ola M. Lewis has passed away.

Lewis’ Godfather Senator Bill Rabon confirmed her passing in a news release Sunday afternoon, saying:

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It is with a heavy heart that I announce the passing of Senior Resident Superior Court Judge Ola M. Lewis after bravely battling a rare form of liver cancer over the past two years.

Judge Lewis has served as senior resident superior court judge since 2003 for Judicial District 13A and 13B, covering Bladen, Brunswick and Columbus counties. She was first appointed a judge in 1993, prior to which she was an assistant district attorney. At the time of her passing, she was the longest serving woman on the bench in NC. She received her undergraduate degree from Fayetteville State University and her Juris Doctorate from NC Central University.

Judge Lewis was a bold and dynamic individual both on and off the bench. She worked tirelessly and was an advocate for those suffering from addiction and mental health disorders. She was a trail blazer – establishing and facilitated the Drug Treatment and Mental Health court in her district as well as the Brunswick County Opioid Addiction Task Force. Her compassionate efforts and steadfast belief in rehabilitation have helped hundreds of individuals turn their lives around by offering them second chances through hard work and accountability. The specialty courts established by judge Lewis have served as models across the state and nation. For her service to NC, Gov. Cooper bestowed upon her the order of the Long Leaf Pine.

Judge Lewis will be sorely missed by those who had the privilege of knowing her and by those she touched while serving on the bench. Her friends and colleagues will miss her warm smile. Judge Lewis was loved by thousands of people and respected by everyone.”

Brunswick County Sheriff John Ingram posted the following statement on social media:

“Judge Lewis was dear and trusted friend to both me and my wife Michelle. We loved her like family and our lives were deeply enriched because of her presence. Her passion for the law and justice, along with her compassion and genuine heart for others has left a mark in the hearts of all she touched. We will miss her infectious smile and laughter, as well as that bold and dynamic personality for which she is well known. Our prayers are with her family and friends.”
Brunswick County Commissioner Mike Forte also posted a statement to Facebook, saying:
“I am heartbroken. She was a neighbor for many years and my very good friend. She swore me in when I became City Commissioner in BSL. I will miss her tremendously. Love you Judge Ola.”
Judge Lewis spent several months in 2017 and 2018 at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota for treatment. Last summer, she went to Houston for treatment at M.D. Anderson Cancer Clinic.
Funeral arrangements will be announced at a later time.