Rotarians make a great pick

Published 10:45 pm Monday, April 27, 2009

The only real surprise about the Suffolk Rotary Club’s choice of Del. S. Chris Jones for its 2009 Citizen of the Year award is that it took the group so long to get around to honoring a man who has had a positive impact in so many areas of the city of Suffolk.

Customers at his pharmacy have become used to a big smile and friendly, personal service since he opened the business in the Food Lion Shopping Center on Bridge Road. Stories are plenteous about his willingness to go beyond the call of duty for his customers, and his sincere inquiries about family members, job situations and other items of personal interest make it clear that he has a one-to-one connection with the people who come into his store. It’s the attitude of a servant, and it’s hardly shocking that Jones’ pastor describes it as a hallmark of the man’s membership at Mount Zion Fellowship Church.

With his interpersonal skills and his desire to help out his fellow man, it’s also unsurprising that Jones eventually would find himself drawn into politics, first at the city level and later within the state legislature. First in the City Council chambers and then in the state capitol building, whole new groups of people began to get to know the Chris Jones whom a smaller community had grown to love: the servant-leader with a sharp mind and an especially generous heart.

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Jones’ leadership drew attention in council chambers, and it has done the same on the floor of the House of Delegates, where he has proved himself a consensus-builder who still stands firmly on his convictions. His representation of Suffolk in Richmond may not always be dogmatically correct, but without exception it has been statesmanlike and beyond reproach.

There could hardly have been a better choice for this year’s Citizen of the Year. Congratulations, Chris. You’ve earned it.