Rotary seeks ‘Suffolk’s First Citizen’

Published 12:00 am Friday, February 28, 2003

The Suffolk Rotary Club is seeking nominations for the &uot;Suffolk First Citizen&uot; award, which is bestowed upon an individual dedicated to community service and caring for others. The deadline for submitting nomination applications is Saturday, March 15, and the person chosen for this distinguished award would be honored Tuesday, April 15, at a banquet in the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy cafetorium.

That event will begin at 6 p.m., and John Harrell, a longtime member of the Suffolk Rotary, will serve as event chairman

This year marks the first time that Suffolk Rotary is sponsoring the program. Beginning in 1956, the former &uot;Cosmopolitan Club of Suffolk&uot; was the sponsor, and each year made the award.


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In 1956, the distinguished service award went to R.L. Woodard Jr. In 1998, the last year that the Cosmopolitan Club honored Durrel Mills. The names in between the two dates read like a &uot;Who’s Who of Suffolk.&uot;

That list includes Henry M. Pinner, Mills. E. Godwin Jr., William R. Savage Jr., W.G. Saunders Jr., Dr. Murray Kantor, James F. Hope, Laura H. Elmore, Robert W. Hundley, and Ted J. LoCasio. Others are Edwin C. Ferguson Jr., S.B. Hazelwood, Andrew B. Damiani, William E. Ashley, Dr. George H. Barnett, William J. Spain Jr., Oliver K. Hobbs, Dr. Philip R. Thomas, Robert E. Gillette, Rev. Melvin R. Boone, J. Samuel Glasscock, George Y. Birdsong, and Jack Nurney. In 1995, the Cosmopolitans broke new ground for the award by naming their first married couple, Al and Georgia Saunders as First Citizens.

Once the Cosmopolitan Club disbanded in the late 1990s, the award also fell by the way.

With the Suffolk Rotary Club stepping in once again to honor distinguished citizens, a tradition of excellence in service to others may continue.

&uot;We believe this prestigious honor is an important and meaningful part of the City of Suffolk,&uot; said Everett Birdsong, one of the club directors. &uot;We are proud to be able to take up where the Cosmopolitans left off in sponsoring this exclusive award. Applications for nominations can be obtained at the Suffolk Visitor’s Center, at 321 N. Main St., Ferguson, Rawls & Raines PC, 332 W. Constance Rd., and at the Suffolk Division of the Chamber of Commerce, at 1001 W. Washington St.&uot;

The Rotary Club of Suffolk is a part of Rotary International, an organization of men and women focused on achievement of world peace through local, national, and international humanitarian programs.

Rotary’s priority program, &uot;Polio Plus,&uot; supports global efforts to eradicate polio; and their humanitarian programs provide grants to fund club and district service projects. Rotary also provides funding for students, faculty, and young professionals to serve abroad.

&uot;The object of Rotary is to encourage and foster the ideal of service as a basis of worthy enterprise and, in particular, to encourage and foster the development of acquaintance as an opportunity for service,&uot; said Birdsong. &uot;Rotarians also apply that ideal of service to their personal, business and community lives in the community, and that’s why the First Citizen Award fits in perfectly with our mission of service to others. First Citizens are recognized for their dedication to serving others.&uot;

Birdsong said all Rotary Club members are charged with asking themselves if what they do in life provides service to others, and they believe that those who best serve humanity profit the most in all areas of their lives.

Rotary is an international organization of clubs around the world. This year’s president serves the organization from his club in Bangkok, Thailand.

Locally, the president of Rotary is Grier Ferguson, attorney, and Ralph Howell serves as the vice president. Leroy Edwards, a member of the Obici Hospital board of directors, is the secretary; and his assistant is Hugh Cross. John Harrell, president of Suffolk Iron Works, serves as treasurer of the organization; and Robert Baker of Baker Funeral Home is the immediate past president.

Directors include Mac Birdsong, vice president of Birdsong Peanuts; Dr. Andy O’Dwyer, Lynette Brugeman, director of Suffolk’s Dept. of Tourism; Dr. Jerry Scheimberg, and Hunter Odom Jr. of Suffolk Insurance. The parliamentarian is Jim McLemore III, attorney. Wayland Pond of Griffin Oil and Mitch Wilcox, president of Commonwealth Engineering, serve as sergeants-at-arms. The Rev. Vance Mann is the chaplain, and Melody Green does &uot;Word-O-Gram.&uot;