The local community is reeling from the recent passing of Wayne County Commissioner Jewel Ware (D-Detroit), who died of a reported heart attack on Dec. 8. She was the current Commission’s vice-chair pro tempore.
In a statement, Mayor Mike Duggan expressed his condolences.
“Our city mourns the loss of one of Detroit and Wayne County’s greatest champions and public servant’s Jewel Ware, who passed away unexpectedly today. Jewel was my friend and colleague for 30 years, going back to her first time as Wayne County Commissioner and eventually commission chair. Throughout her career, she was a tireless advocate for the seniors in our community and always committed to good government,” Duggan said in his post. “I’ve never seen a public official so deeply connected to her constituents and the community she served so well. I have lost a dear friend and a trusted advisor. Please keep Jewel’s friends and family in your prayers.”
Ware was first elected to the Wayne County Commission in 1994. In 2003, her Commission colleagues elected her as chairwoman, according to her biography on the Commission’s website. As chairwoman of the Commission through 2008, Ware’s responsibilities included overseeing the county’s $2.14 billion budget, approving contracts, and adopting resolutions and ordinances.
During her tenure as chairwoman, Ware made the Wayne County Commission a more succinct and efficient legislative body, saving approximately $1 million annually. She created an office of policy research and analysis that provides a more significant in-depth legislative and fiscal review of county contracts and operations.
Ware was a huge advocate for seniors, health care, and children. She also tirelessly worked on education initiatives, economic empowerment, and improving Wayne County residents’ quality of life. Two major issues that she has focused on are improving access to health care for the underinsured and uninsured and guiding former prisoners’ transition into becoming productive members of society, the website stated, adding that she was a champion for the mentally ill and developmentally disabled.
Ware was involved in initiatives including the Mittens and Socks Winter Drive for Children and cleanup programs sponsored by the Midtown Alliance and also was the host for an annual Old Fashioned Ice Cream Social & Legislative Briefing.
Commissioner Ware received bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the University of Detroit-Mercy and was a certified social worker.
Wayne County Executive Warren Evans also said in a statement that he was saddened to hear of the passing of his friend and colleague.
“Jewel was a friend of mine for the better part of 30 years, and we worked together in several different capacities,” he said. “Over that period of time, I got to know her as a fiercely dedicated and no-nonsense public servant who always represented her constituents – especially her beloved seniors – to the best of her ability. My heart goes out to the friends and family of Commissioner Ware, as well as members of her staff and others who have worked with her and share this tremendous loss to our community. Her strength, experience, and common sense will be sorely missed.”
Wayne County Commission Chair Alisha Bell issued the following statement on Ware’s passing:
“The Wayne County Commission family is devastated by the sudden passing of Jewel Ware this morning. Commissioner Ware was a trusted member of the commission family, and her experience in county government and knowledge of county issues were immeasurable.
“Members often referred to her as the dean of the Commission and I was proud to nominate her as commission chair pro-tem during her most recent term, her 13th since being elected to the Commission in 1994. She was always a proud advocate for issues involving her beloved seniors and also was a strong supporter of programs aiding young people in the community,” she said.
“Residents of the Commission’s 2nd District have lost a true champion and our heartfelt condolences go out to her loving family.”