Community mourns passing of Randy Ware
Friends and family are remembering Randy Ware as a man who worked tirelessly to make life easier for impoverished residents of Iberville Parish.
Ware died last week at his Plaquemine home. He had celebrated his 79th birthday on Oct. 9.
“He loved to be with people and do a good job,” said Albert “Minnie” Ware, his wife of 25 years. “He loved dealing with people and trying to help others … that was his life.
“He was a very kind, loving man,” she said. “I never saw him get upset with anybody, and I know his job was hard.”
Lifelong friend Dr. Gerald Smith, a Plaquemine resident who works as a dentist in Baltimore, remembers Ware like he was an older brother.
“He was gentle and competitive, but he always had the upper hand,” he said. “Randy was the star basketball player, leader of the team, played tenor saxophone in the band and the first chair of the band club.”
Ware, the son of a local businessman, began his career as an accountant with Lemoyne Community Agency. He was appointed as the Parish Community Services Director when the Police Jury took over Lemoyne Community Agency in 1989.
His work with the parish continued after the transition from the police jury form of government to Home Rule Charter in 1997.
“Randy was my longest serving employee I had from the transition, and he had probably one of the toughest jobs of all my administrators,” said Iberville Parish President J. Mitchell Ourso, who spoke at Ware’s funeral last week. “He dealt with people who were unfortunate, didn’t have money to pay their light bill or rental … he touched a lot of people across the parish for a number of years. He put up with a lot of stuff and he had a good heart.”
Ware also served several terms on the Iberville Parish School Board.
Ware, a 1960 graduate of Iberville High School, attended Texas Southern in Houston and transferred to Southern University, where he earned his bachelor’s degree in accounting.
After his graduation from college, Ware accepted an accounting job at Texaco’s Chicago offices in 1967.
His father died three weeks after he took the job, which prompted him to give up the job and return home to care for his mother.
Ware was the father of three children.
“He instilled the same values to get an education, and he wanted all of them to be well educated, as they are,” Minnie Ware said.
Plaquemine resident Linda Johnson, who also has worked many years in community service, grew up next door to Ware on Oak Street.
Much of Ware’s business acumen that helped him throughout career was cultivated before he finished high school, said Johnson, who knew Ware her entire life.
“He was the first black man I ever knew who had his own checking account before he finished high school,” she said. “My mom and dad didn’t even have a checking account at that time.”
Ourso and Johnson both remembered Ware as a consummate professional who was always impeccably dress.
“He got that from his uncle – always well dressed all the time,” Johnson said.
“Randy was the best dressed employee I ever had and the best dressed person in the whole courthouse,” Ourso said. “He had that cool walk … that glide … and he had a coolness about him.
“He didn’t play golf, he had no big hobby and I never even saw him in a pair of jeans,” he said. “Helping people was just what he liked to do.”
Ourso said he never recalled seeing Ware mad, even amid the difficult situations he addressed daily.
“I’m going to miss him … he helped a lot of people and put up with a lot of stuff, yet he was always humble and lowkey,” he said.
In 2020, Ware told Ourso he was ready to step back from the job. He trained Monica Edmonds and passed the torch to her.
But it did not mean he was ready to throw in the towel.
“He said he didn’t really want to retire because he still had gas in the tank, so he said he’d do whatever I wanted him to do,” Ourso said. “He became my special project guy, so I’d use them when they were meetings, or he’d go to represent me.
“He came to the office the Thursday before he died to help a lady who had an issue with the state,” the parish president said. “He went home to handle the call.”
Ourso once told Ware he could work with the parish government for as long as he wanted.
“And the irony is that he stayed here until he died,” he said.
Smith said the impact of Ware’s death hasn’t hit him yet.
“Impact is a very important word because we will leave that kind of voice when we leave,” he said. We’re all still in shock and it’s still being processed that he’s deceased. That impact will be felt for a very long time.”