Quayle to be honored

Published 4:15 pm Saturday, April 9, 2011

Sen. Fred Quayle sits at his desk in the General Assembly in Richmond. Quayle, whose district covers part of Suffolk, will be honored by the Suffolk and North Suffolk Rotary clubs this week as First Citizen.

Virginia Senator Fred Quayle’s district may cover parts of nine localities, but to him, Suffolk will always be home.

The 2011 First Citizen winner will be honored with a program and reception at 6:30 p.m. Thursday at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

After nearly 20 years in the Virginia State Senate, Quayle has racked up numerous awards and accolades, the Suffolk First Citizen being only the most recent. He has been a tireless advocate for the 13th District while at the same time being a multi-talented family man.

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“He’s just a very humble individual,” said Brenda Quayle, the senator’s wife. “He’s very conscientious about his work and kind to people. But I’m too prejudiced. I just think he’s the perfect man.”

Quayle was born and raised in Suffolk and graduated from Suffolk High School in 1954. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Virginia, and his law degree from the T.C. Williams School of Law at the University of Richmond.

At various times in his adult life, Quayle has been active in the Suffolk and North Suffolk Rotary clubs, the Suffolk Jaycees, the March of Dimes, Louise Obici Hospital Auxiliary activities and the U.S. Army Reserves. He also was an Eagle Scout.

While living in Chesapeake in 1992, Quayle decided the time was right to run for the Virginia Senate.

“I decided if I was ever going to do it, I needed to do it then,” Quayle said last month, soon after finding out he had received the award.

The award puts him on a prestigious list of Suffolk citizens, including last year’s honoree, Dr. Douglas Naismith, and other former recipients like W. Ross Boone, Councilman Curtis Milteer, former mayor Andy Damiani, George Birdsong, attorney and former state Delegate Sam Glasscock, former Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr., and others.

The First Citizen award has been given every year since 1956, except for a hiatus from 1999 to 2003. The Cosmopolitan Club initially started giving the award in 1956, but stopped in ’99 when the club disbanded. In 2003, the Suffolk Rotary Club picked up the tradition and continued it. The North Suffolk Rotary Club joined in the selection and presentation for the first time last year.

Crystal Rivenbark, assistant secretary of the downtown Suffolk Rotary Club, said Quayle was chosen by a nomination committee because he exemplified the spirit of citizenship and has shown significant leadership through his talents to make Suffolk a better place to live.

“It’s a tough call,” she said. “There are so many great citizens out there.”

Brenda Quayle said her husband has carried a number of important pieces of legislation to Richmond on behalf of the city, including the one that allowed Suffolk residents to directly elect their mayor for the first time in 2008.

Quayle also sponsored the bill that allowed sales tax generated at the Hilton Garden Inn to be used to pay the city’s debt on the attached conference center. Only three such agreements exist in the state.

“That was important for the city so they would be able to fund that conference center,” Brenda Quayle said.

Virginia Delegate S. Chris Jones shares plenty of roles with Quayle. Both are Suffolk natives, state legislators and, now, fellow First Citizen winners. Jones won the award in 2009.

“Fred and I have worked together for 14 sessions now,” Jones said. “He’s done a lot on behalf of the city in Richmond. I think it is a well-deserved award, and I’m very proud to call him a fellow First Citizen.”

Quayle has been named legislator of the year by a variety of groups, including the Chesapeake Bay Foundation, the Suffolk Firefighters Association and the National Child Support Enforcement Association.

Quayle is the father of four grown children — Mac, Catherine, Alex and Tim. He and Brenda have been married for 34 years. He is a member of local organizations including Suffolk Sister Cities, Suffolk-Nansemond Historical Society and the Suffolk Art League.