A Cherokee businessman and longtime advocate for education took his life last Thursday when gunshots rang out at the motel he owned.
The Cherokee Indian Police Department is investigating the circumstances surrounding the death of Lambert Wilson, chairman of the Southwestern Community College Board of Trustees.
A tenant staying at a vacation rental near the El Camino Motel at 15 Painttown Road, Cherokee, told WLOS News that he heard four to five gunshots on Thursday night.
The North Carolina Bureau of Investigation assisted the investigation, but the CIPD is the primary investigative agency. At the time of writing, the Cherokee Indian Police have not issued a statement. Multiple attempts to contact her CIPD for information by The Sylva Herald, Smoky Mountain Times and Cherokee One Feather were ignored.
Wilson dedicated his life to teaching in two local counties and the Quora Boundary.
In Jackson County, Wilson was instrumental in the promotion and fundraising of Southwestern Community College and worked to further the cause of higher education.
Wilson has served on the SCC Board of Trustees for 13 years. During his last three years on the board, he served as chairman.
“Mr. Wilson has invested his time, resources, and heart in supporting our students, our university, and our community. He was at the center of every decision we made as a member.He was a true and true friend to all of us at Southwestern University.Our hearts are heavy.We have lost a great man. .”
Wilson also co-chaired the SCC fundraising gala event. Under his co-leadership, Gala has raised more than his $600,000. He also worked to establish endowment scholarships to ensure that as many young people as possible, especially those who were struggling financially, had access to education.
He extended that support beyond fundraising efforts with real-world support.
Wilson gave Heber Najera, a student in the Physical Therapist Assistant Program, a free room at the El Camino Motel. Najella’s home is in Polk County.
“Mr. Wilson is one of the most kind and generous men I have ever met, and I cannot thank him enough for the kindness he has shown me,” Najera said. “I have seen him help so many people who are homeless, suffering and in need of a place to live.At Southwestern we want to help every student in need. It was more than words, it was his way of life.
In Swain County, Wilson worked as an educator for 31 years. After he served as a teacher at Whittier Elementary and principal at the East Elementary, he eventually served on the school board for 12 years.
A tribute to Wilson on the Swain County School Facebook page speaks to Wilson’s kindness and dedication to learning.
“We lost one of our best schools,” Swain County Schools said. He said, “I have touched the lives of so many students and colleagues along the way. Our hearts are broken. We have lost colleagues, mentors and dear friends.”
Jane DeHart Greaves and Shirley Blanton said, “Lambert was too good for this world.
Cherokee Central Schools thanked Lambert for his support on their Facebook page.
“Mr. Wilson was a friend to everyone he met,” CCS wrote. “His support for our CCS family and Cherokee community will be greatly missed.”