By Barney Blakeney
Former Charleston City Councilman, civic leader, activist and entrepreneur Louis Waring died April 16. He was 94. Waring rose from the earth of Charleston’s rural St. Andrew’s Parish West Ashley to become a prominent leader in business, the community and civil activism. He was an astute businessman and real estate developer.
The son of Louis L. Waring, Sr. and Geneva King Waring, at age 14 Waring left school to serve in the Navy during WWII. After being stationed at Port Chicago, CA. where he loaded munitions onto naval ships, he returned the Jim Crow segregation of Charleston determined to gain the freedoms he had helped others across the oceans to win.
Waring was a staunch proponent for God, family and community and worked diligently to promote each. His biography reads, “Through his belief in putting God first, integrity, family values and teamwork, Waring’s service to his country and dedication to improving the lives of others through education, peaceful protest and participation in city government has yielded huge dividends.”
Hired as a laborer at Charleston Naval shipyard after the war, he challenged the inequities he found there. Waring joined a lawsuit against the shipyard for discrimination in promotion practices and against local bowling alleys that would not admit Black patrons. Both lawsuits were won. He ultimately rose to become a general foreman in the Rigger Shop at the shipyard.
Waring married his wife of 58 years, the late Seloris Collins Waring, and was actively involved in the education of their children protesting the inequities in the school system. Waring was elected to serve as the President of the First Congressional District of the South Carolina Colored Parent Teacher’s Association (PTA) just prior to the integration of schools in South Carolina. He retired after 33 years at the shipyard in 1982 and was elected to the St. Andrews Public Service District Commission in 1990 later serving as its chairman.
Waring won a seat on Charleston City Council in 1993. He served four terms. He served as Mayor Pro Tem in 1995 and 2006. Waring was chairman of the Ways and Means Committee and served as the city’s representative on the board of Charleston Water System (formerly CPW). He also helped to facilitate approval of the largest senior citizen affordable housing development West of the Ashley in 2003. The housing complex represented over $6 million in development.
Some of his community service included: the Board of Directors for the Charleston NAACP (Life Member), Salvation Army (member), Gibbes Museum of Art, Citizens Committee Credit Union (former Board Chairman), Joint Highway 61 Commission (former Vice President), member and chairman of the St. Andrews Park & Playground Commission, Founder and President of St. Andrews Improvement and Awareness Organization. He became the first African American chairman of the board of the Charleston County Department of Social Services.
Waring is survived by his children: Donald C. Waring (Maria), Kenneth Waring (Lisa), Carolyn W. Thames, Louis L. Waring, III (Ann), P. Keith Waring (Donna) and Gayle W. Brown (Robert); twenty grandchildren, several great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren; Roy (Sylvia) Gillard who he loved like a son; dear special friend, Mrs. Hermenia Gardner; sisters-in-law, Merrill Elise Sanyal (Anil) and Evelyn Collins and host of nieces, nephews, cousins and friends. He was preceded in death by his loving wife, Seloris Collins Waring; his parents, Louis L. Waring, Sr. and Geneva King Waring; two brothers and one sister.
Waring will be privately funeralized April 23. A walk through viewing of his remains will be 4-6 p.m. April 22 at the Palmetto Mortuary, Inc., 1122 Morrison Drive, Charleston. In lieu of flowers, please make monetary donations to the Roper St. Francis Foundation and The Waring Senior Center, 1962 Ashley Hall Rd., Charleston, SC 29407. The donations will be used to help senior citizens who are on a limited income needing assistance to pay annual membership dues.