Club seek First Citizen names

Published 5:54 pm Saturday, January 30, 2010

The Suffolk and North Suffolk Rotary clubs are accepting nominations for the 2010 First Citizen Award.

The award, given each year since 1956 except for a hiatus from 1999 to 2002, is given to a resident of Suffolk who exemplifies community service and significant leadership that have enhanced the quality of life in the city.

“Basically, it’s just to honor citizens of the city of Suffolk who have been going above and beyond the normal citizenry as far as what they do for the city,” said Bob House, the president of the Suffolk Rotary Club.


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Last year’s recipient was Delegate Chris Jones. Other prior recipients have included Betsy Brothers, who was instrumental in the renovation and reuse of the Suffolk High School as the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts; community activist Ross Boone; attorney Whitney Saunders; longtime City Councilman Curtis Milteer; historian Sue Woodward; former mayor Dana Dickens; business owner George Birdsong; longtime General Assembly member Sam Glasscock; dentist George Barnett; former mayor Andy Damiani; and former Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr.

The award was started by the Cosmopolitan Club, but ended in 1999 when the club disbanded. In 2003, it was taken up by the Rotary Club. Initially, members of the club were not permitted to be honored, but that was changed in recent years, House said.

“We changed that because we feel like we’ve got a lot of worthy people in our club,” House said.

The First Citizen award is meaningful, both to its recipients and to the community, House said.

“One of the things people tend to take for granted is there are certain people in the community who are go-to guys and gals who will volunteer for worthy causes and worthy things and so forth,” House said. “After a while, you almost take these people for granted. This is a way to let them know they are not just doing this and everybody’s forgetting about it as soon as they finish.”

In an effort to make the award a “truly Suffolk” First Citizen, House said, the Suffolk Rotary Club partnered with the North Suffolk Rotary Club this year and hopes to expand the scope of the award.

“We work in conjunction with them,” House said. “They’re very enthused about it.”

The First Citizen is honored with a banquet in the spring. All money raised from the banquet goes toward charitable organizations.

Both clubs are accepting nominations for the award; nominations must be postmarked by Feb. 18. Citizens are encouraged to nominate fellow citizens they feel are worthy of the honor.

To do so, obtain a nomination form from the Suffolk Rotary Club Web site at Attach letters of endorsement to the application. When complete, mail to Suffolk Rotary Club, P.O. Box 1972, Suffolk, VA 23439.