The measure of success

Published 12:00 am Thursday, July 28, 2005

We all wonder some times what things would be like if we left? Whether we would be missed?

Elizabeth McCoury does not have to consider such questions. She knows the answers.

They were evident Friday afternoon when the Downtown Business Association hosted a going away party for McCoury at Shooting Star Gallery on North Main Street.

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McCoury’s last day as Suffolk’s Downtown Develop-ment Coordinator is Friday. She’s going to Roanoke where she will be doing similar work and where her husband, Jake, received a State Police promotion.

It’s not unusual for someone who is well thought of by co-workers to be treated to a bon voyage party. The event Friday was different, however. It wasn’t her colleagues with the city who gave the party, though many were present, on the taxpayer’s dime. It was the business owners and developers of the downtown area who pooled money and effort to shower McCoury with food, gifts and affection. I think that says something. It’s like a real estate agent moving and all the people who they worked with on selling or buying homes throwing them a party. It never happens.

Among those singing McCoury’s praises were Mayor Bobby Ralph, Industrial Development Authority Chairman John Harrell, DBA President Andy Damiani; and former and present city managers Myles Standish and Steve Herbert.

&uot;Everyone here (downtown business owners and developers) has probably had first-hand contact with her,&uot; Ralph said. &uot;She told a story that was convincing to you and it’s proved to be a worthy story.&uot;

Harrell noted that the success of downtown has been a result of city council’s vision and told McCoury,&uot; you’ve done a wonderful job of implementing that vision.&uot;

&uot;The renaissance down here is phenomenal and a lot of it is Elizabeth McCoury’s doing,&uot; Standish said.

&uot;The community will benefit from this for generations to come,&uot; Herbert said of her work, adding somewhat jokingly I assumed that he wouldn’t mind if her husband struggled in his new job so the family could move back to Suffolk.

McCoury herself was short on words, saying only that there was more she wanted to do in Suffolk, adding that she thought the Fairgrounds project &uot;will be bigger and better than anything I have ever done.&uot;

I’ve written a lot lately about the success of downtown Suffolk. While, as Harrell noted, it started with the vision of City Council, but vision, and four bucks will get you a cup of fancy coffee. It’s worthless without courage, hard work and, in many cases, money. All those elements fell into place in Suffolk to keep downtown from being merely a memory. The easy thing would have been to abandon it to the decay and unsavory elements that were asserting control.

McCoury has certainly been a big part of that. Sales is hard work even when you have something people want or need. McCoury sold a product that didn’t even exist – she sold dreams and visions and apparently did a good job it. She obviously made a lot of friends and is leaving Suffolk better than she found it. Those are the measures of success.

Andy Prutsok is publisher of the News-Herald. He can be reached at 934-9611 or at