Community service

Published 12:00 am Monday, February 14, 2005

Suffolk News-Herald

Dozens of people turned out last weekend to recognize seven citizens recently honored by the East Suffolk Federated Civic League at its 14th Annual Community Awards and Achievement Banquet.

Honorees included educators Mary Lena Diggs Brown and Twianna Melissa Harper; entrepreneurs Roland L. Wyatt Sr., Roland Wyatt Jr. and Albert L. &uot;Dickie&uot; Blanks; the Rev. Henry G. Baker; and church musician Essie Mae Clark.

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Baker, who has been in the ministry for 28 years, is senior pastor of Greater First Baptist Church Orlando, located at 505 Eola Ave. in Suffolk.

He is former pastor of Mt. Calvary Baptist Church and a member of Mt. Sinai Baptist Church.

A Holland native, Baker is a U.S. Army veteran and retired human services manager with the Virginia Department of Rehabilitative Services. He is also a former school teacher, social worker, marketing consultant and professional rehabilitation counselor.

Baker has several advanced degrees, including a master’s degree in divinity and a doctorate of ministry.

He belongs to the Epsilon Iota Lambda chapter of Alpha Phi Alpha Fraternity Inc. and the Holland Masonic Lodge No. 256.

Blanks, a Nansemond County native, is celebrating the 20th anniversary of his hair salon, Tashmar’s, this year.

Blanks began his business career in 1967 as manager of the Roc-Kays Band, a local music group that featured eight musicians and three lead singers. Three years later, Blanks opened Roc-Kays Record Shop, which became a primary source for area blacks

to purchase music. He opened a second Roc-Kays store in Churchland in 1978.

Then, in 1985, Blanks closed the music shops and went into the hair salon business.

Blanks and his wife, Pearlie, have two children, Tasha and Mark.

Brown has worked in education for the past 37 years. The Chuckatuck native is the high school supervisor of Suffolk Public Schools.

Brown, who graduated from East Suffolk High School in 1962, has a bachelor’s degree in math from Shaw University, Raleigh, N.C., and a

master’s degree in secondary math education from Hampton University. She has worked as an adjunct professor at Old Dominion University and Paul D. Camp Community College.

Brown is a lifelong member of Diamond Grove Baptist Church and belongs to several professional organizations, including Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc., the Education Association of Suffolk, the National Council for Teachers of Mathematics, Tidewater Council of Teachers of Mathematics and the National Science Teachers Association.

Brown and her husband, Suffolk City Councilman Charles F. Brown, have three daughters: Britta, Cicely and Cherie. The couple has five grandchildren, Maya, Luis Jr., Camille, Layla and Kyle.

Clark, a native of Nansemond County, is an organist and member of Metropolitan Baptist Church. She began studying music at age 7.

She has belonged to both the NAACP and the Elks B.P.O. Lodge No. 685 for

more than four decades.

She and her sister, Leola Clark, live on Luceren Avenue.

Harper, a Portsmouth educator, is the owner and operator of 1,2,3’s Tutoring Service in Suffolk. She is the lead attendance technician and court liaison in Portsmouth Public Schools’ youth risk prevention program.

Harper was treasurer and spokeswoman for the Southeastern Tidewater Opportunity Project from 1994 to 1995 and has been active in the Suffolk’s Parent Teacher Association for the past 15 years.

She has been active in numerous civic organizations, including coaching and volunteering for the East Suffolk Federated Civic League’s &uot;Just Say No&uot; softball program and the Suffolk’s Inner City Athletics Association.

Harper, a member of True Gospel Ministries, has three children: James E. Golden, John E. Golden and Jamekia A. Golden.

Roland L. Wyatt Sr. and Roland Wyatt Jr., owners of Wyatt and Sons Funeral Home Inc., have been serving Suffolk and the surrounding community for the past 35 years.

The elder Wyatt, a native of Waverly, is president and founder of the funeral home at 1107 E. Washington St. He graduated from the American Academy McCallister Institute of Mortuary Science in 1969.

Roland Wyatt Jr., vice president of the business, earned a bachelor’s degree in business and public administration from Old Dominion University in 1989. He graduated from the John Tyler Funeral Service Program in 1991.