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Festival Queen

Gore image 155px
Judge C. Ashley Gore

SHP Colonel Proud to be
Pecan Harvest Festival Parade Marshal
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Vic ward image"In my work, I travel all over the state, and around the country,” said Charles Victor "Vic” Ward. "People always ask me where I’m from. Whiteville’s been talked about by me to more people than I can name.”

Ward felt "very honored and humbled even to be considered” for the position of Pecan Parade Marshal. "It kind of threw me for a loop to be asked, and I had to think about it for a while because I don’t consider myself anybody special.”

Ward felt especially overwhelmed to follow in the footsteps of Louise Pridgen Turner, 2016 parade marshal, but he called organizer Suzanne King back and accepted the opportunity to show some of the lifelong love he has for the community where he grew up.

Ward was born in Whiteville and spent much of his youth in the New Hope Community just south of town. He was the only child of Vickie Floyd (now McGregor) and the grandson of John and Estaleen Engen.

"My grandmother sold men’s clothes for more than 30 years at Belk,” starting on Madison Street and moving to Columbus Corners, said Ward; it was a good way to get to know everyone in the community.

Ward received valuable mentoring from a long list of teachers, coaches and role models. "I was a knothead like most other young kids,” he said, but "my middle school and high school teachers looked out for me.”

Albenny Burney was "one of the toughest teachers I ever had.” Joe Sellers, who taught Ward "for at least three years,” was "a big influence.”

Bill McGraw, "an outstanding individual,” coached the Whiteville High School boys tennis team during Ward’s freshman year, inspiring the players to reach a higher competitive level than they had in previous years. "We had to play against bigger schools, but we country boys wore ‘em out,” Ward said. Coach McGraw died not long after Ward’s days on his team.

Now living in Cary, Ward belongs to a tennis league where he can keep his skills up by playing once a week, "if I’m lucky, twice a week,” against other former high school and college players.

Choosing a Direction
While attending WHS, Ward was active in school service organizations and was editor of the yearbook. He was the top-ranked tennis player at WHS his entire four years while attaining all-conference honors and led WHS to winning the conference and eastern state championships. In his senior season, Vic was undefeated in singles and combined with partner Rob Gurgainus to form the number one ranked doubles team in the state.

"I always wanted to be a trooper,” said Ward. Some of the men who inspired him in his career path are Alan Capps, Gene Hasty and Jimmy Williams.

When he graduated from WHS in 1986, he had no interest in college, but he was too young to join the Highway Patrol, so he earned a degree from UNC-Wilmington. Vic concluded his tennis career at UNC-Wilmington under Coach Larry Honeycutt.

"I graduated on Saturday, May 12, 1990,” said Ward. "When I got home, I found a packet in my mailbox telling me to report to Highway Patrol School in two weeks. What growing up I still had left to do, they helped me out with at Basic Training,” Ward said.

Ward was stationed in Robeson and Pender counties prior to coming back to Columbus County, where he served as a Trooper under First sergeant Jim McVicker until his promotion to sergeant.

One of his first days on the job back in his home county, said Ward, a drunk driver he was arresting kicked his windshield out. In those days, "Rhonda Turner adopted me as a ‘baby trooper’ and always kept my spirits up,” he said.

Increasing Responsibilities
Ward served in Cumberland County until being promoted to first sergeant. He was assigned to Beaufort County and then SHP Headquarters in Raleigh.

After being promoted to Lieutenant in 2008, Vic was assigned as a liaison officer to the NC Information Sharing and Analysis Center (ISAAC), a homeland security task force consisting of multiple agencies including the FBI, SBI, DHS and others.

While assigned at the ISAAC, Vic was part of the operation that arrested members of the "Triangle Terror” group, who had plotted against the US Marine Corp Base in Quantico, VA. In 2010, Vic was promoted to captain and served as the Commander of the SHP’s Internal Affairs Unit for three years. After being assigned back to Field Operations, Vic was promoted in 2016 to major, overseeing SHP operations for the eastern part of the state. On 2 February 2017, Vic was appointed Deputy Commander of the SHP (Lieutenant Colonel) by Governor Roy Cooper. Troopers report to Ward on a variety of day-today operations.

"Very Blessed”
For someone who did not want to go to college, Ward has achieved a lot of education.

In addition to a BA degree at UNCW, Vic is a graduate of the Southern Police Institute (Louisville, KY), the FBI National Academy (Quantico, VA), and the US Naval Postgraduate School (Monterey, CA). He will receive his Master’s Degree in Justice Administration from Methodist University in December 2017.

Ward and his wife Debra have a 24-year-old daughter, Victoria, who works for an affiliate of WRAL. Their 20-year-old son Kyle is a junior at East Carolina University.

As the family has moved to new locations over their 27 years of marriage, they have usually gravitated to a neighborhood that reminded him of Whiteville’s "hometown feeling. So many people today think ‘Bigger is better,’ but Whiteville’s changed less than some other places have,” said Ward. "I’m very blessed to have been born and raised in that environment.

"Whiteville and Columbus County hold a very special place in my heart, and I’m extremely proud to be a Whiteville native! I want to sincerely thank the festival committee for bestowing this honor upon me.”

By Diana Matthews (dianamatthews@nrcolumbus.com)

Article and Images Courtesy of and as Published October 2, 2017 in The News Reporter www.NRColumbus.com


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Photos Courtesy of The News Reporter