Suffolk loses trailblazer

Published 8:24 am Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Suffolk lost one of its biggest champions this weekend.

Former Vice-President of the Suffolk Branch of the NAACP and Civic Advocate Helen Daughtrey died Saturday. She was 80 years old.

“Helen was considered a trailblazer, and she was,” said Amanda Rodgers, a devoted friend and colleague with Daughtrey. “We’re going to miss her.”

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Daughtrey served on many committees and project boards aimed at revitalizing the city of Suffolk. Specifically, she served on the Fairground/Phoenix Bank Revitalization Committee, the Suffolk Beautification Committee and served as an electoral official for the city. Additionally, Daughtrey helped with the development of the East Suffolk Recreation Center and served on the Clean City Committee to keep the city streets clean and litter-free.

“She was very active, very busy, very involved and concerned citizen,” said Sandra Knight. Knight is a friend of the family and one Daughtrey called an “adopted niece.” “She was just totally involved and whatever she was involved in you can believe she put in 100 plus percent to make it happen.”

Those close to Daughtrey said her focus had always been on keeping the community running at its best, whether through revitalization efforts such as the Fairgrounds Project or through campaigning for new elected leadership.

“We wanted Suffolk to remember what the fairgrounds were supposed to be, a place for us to come together,” Rodgers said. “She would say to me, ‘Come on, now, we have work to do.”

That work included attending countless city meetings, alongside politicians on the local and regional level and holding community meetings to gain support.

“She worked with all people,” Knight said. “She would reprimand you when you were wrong and she would praise you when you did right. She knew how to find people’s strengths and worked well with all people.”

Additionally, Daughtrey held several leadership positions in her church, including Sunday school teacher, member of the deaconess board and founder of the Afro-centric ministry.

“She had tireless energy in everything she did,” Knight said. “She was kindhearted, giving, and a peacemaker. She had that kind of charisma and we loved her and you respected her because of the way she carried herself.”

The funeral for Helen Daughtrey will be conducted at 1 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 19 at Metropolitan Baptist Church with Reverend Dr. Robert Hobbs officiating. Burial will follow at Carver Cemetery with an Eastern Star ceremony.