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MEMPHIS, Tenn. — The City of Memphis is remembering the life of former city councilwoman Barbara Swearengen Ware.  Family says she passed away due to COVID-19 complications at age 82.

Friends and colleagues say she’ll be forever known as the champion for the North Memphis and Douglass communities.

To those who knew Swearengen Ware, they remember a woman of faith and one who served her community as a Memphis City Councilwoman for more than 16 years.

“She was an evangelist. She cared about people. She preached to everyone in this city, including members of the Council,” former City Councilman Myron Lowery said.

Swearengen Ware was appointed to the council in 1994 and was elected to her first full term in 1995. She served through 2010 representing District Seven and the Douglass community, and also served as Council Chair in 2000. 

“She was always advocating for those who felt they didn’t have a voice and she was their voice,” City Councilman Martavius Jones said.

Swearengen Ware was an ordained evangelist and noted singer. She was an active member of the First Baptist Mt. Olive Church, where she served as an evangelist and Bible class teacher.

She also made history becoming the first black woman to work as a Customer Service representative for the U.S. Postal Service in Memphis.  

“I appreciate the way she looked after her church family, her blood family and she took that same level of care and competence in looking after her community,” said state Rep. G.A. Hardaway.

She resigned from the council after being accused of official misconduct, but the charges against her were later dropped.

“She continued to work for the community, regardless of what happen on the council or that false indictment,” Lowery said.
Jones said she had been a victim of “selective prosecution.”

“What we found here in Shelby County is the law applies to some and doesn’t apply to others,” Jones said.

Her friends and colleagues say she continued to fight for her community, only losing her own personal health battle due to COVID-19.

“Barbara was a good woman and I don’t believe that she believed in the vaccine, and that was a mistake,” Lowery said.

Mrs. Ware is survived by her husband, Pastor Emeritus Albert Walter Ware; three sons: Michael Moore, Cecil Moore Jr. and Corey Ware Sr; and two daughters: Donna Ware-Clifton and Albernique Ware.

“I think if we want to honor her memory it would be educate yourself about the virus, get your vaccination, keep masking, and keep your distancing,” Hardaway said.