Suffolk Dems honor ‘heroes’

Published 9:49 pm Saturday, May 21, 2011

Honorees: The Suffolk Democratic Committee held a luncheon Saturday to honor three men it named “community heroes.” From left, honoree LeOtis Williams; committee chairman Art Bredemeyer; and honoree Curtis Holland. Honoree Joseph Barlow was unable to attend.

Three community leaders were honored Saturday at a luncheon by the Suffolk Democratic Committee.

Former Councilman Joseph H. Barlow, Holland resident Curtis M. Holland and business owner LeOtis L. Williams received plaques of recognition at the third annual Community Heroes Luncheon at the Quality Inn.

“Heroes are those who display courage and self-sacrifice for the greater good of the community,” said Circuit Court Clerk Randy Carter, who was the guest speaker at the event. “They have set a high bar for what we must try to exceed.”

Email newsletter signup

More than 80 people attended the event, some of them former recipients of the award themselves.

Carter encouraged those in the audience to honor the three men by making a difference in the community themselves.

“It would be a shame for us to honor these three people, get in our cars, go home and go back to our regular old lives,” Carter said. “The greatest honor we could give them is to go out and help the community in some shape, fashion or form. There’s enough out there for everybody. There’s no shortage of things to do.”

Barlow, the first honoree on the program, could not attend because of family commitments, but his accomplishments and service were appreciated, nonetheless.

“There is probably no one in this room that is not aware of Joe’s many contributions to Suffolk and the former Nansemond County,” said Art Bredemeyer, chairman of the Suffolk Democratic Committee. He nominated Barlow for the award.

Barlow formerly served in the U.S. Air Force. Closer to home, he is a farmer and also served on Suffolk’s Planning Commission, School Board and City Council. He served as chairman of Suffolk Tomorrow and on the Western Tidewater Water Authority, as well as on numerous agriculture industry boards. He also was named Suffolk’s First Citizen by the Suffolk Rotary Club. He recently retired from City Council but continues to work the family farm.

Honoree Curtis Holland was nominated by School Board member Enoch Copeland. Holland graduated from Southwestern school in 1969 and went to work for Union Camp in Franklin. He was the first black person hired into the maintenance department as a hydraulic mechanic.

In 1971, he was drafted into the U.S. Army and served until 1973, when he took a spot in the Army Reserves. He stayed with the reserves for 31 years, earning two associate’s degrees along the way. He also received an Army Commendation Medal. He retired in 2002 from the military and in 2010 from International Paper.

He has served with the Holland Masonic Lodge 256 for many years and also is a leader in his church.

Copeland nominated Holland, though, for his less visible service. As an example, he recently purchased a washing machine for an elderly Holland resident who could no longer get to the laundromat and could not afford to buy a washing machine herself. He also put up a basketball goal for the community children and delivers Christmas baskets.

“He enjoys helping neighbors — and I can vouch for that — by cleaning snow from driveways,” Copeland said.

Holland remarked that being from a family of 12, he was always taught that “sharing is part of life.”

“Always let your light shine, even if it’s a dim light,” Holland said. “A whole bunch of dim lights make a bright light.”

The final honoree, LeOtis Williams, was nominated by Councilman Charles Parr.

Williams owns LW’s Lawn Service and MWM Investments and Property Management. He has long given back to the community in the form of his annual Thanksgiving turkey giveaway, which has blessed more than 5,500 families.

He also has given out free memberships to the East Suffolk Recreation Center, donated $5,000 to the American Red Cross to help with Haiti earthquake relief, and participated in National Night Out and the Suffolk Police Department’s D.A.R.E. program. He has received numerous awards from the NAACP, Martin Luther King Jr. Day committee and more. He also serves on the Salvation Army advisory board.

Williams said he wanted to thank his mother “for instilling the nature of giving back to the community in her kids,” he said.

“I believe that no man, woman or child should go hungry,” he said.

He recently created the LW-MWM Foundation and plans to use it to expand his community outreach.