Woman gets DAR awards

Published 10:10 pm Monday, February 22, 2016

A Portsmouth woman and former Suffolk resident recently received two awards from the Daughters of the American Revolution for her work.

Margaret Windley has been a member of the Fort Nelson DAR chapter since 1979. She was honored recently for writing a letter to the editor in defense of a monument involving a different war — the Civil War.

The letter, published Oct. 11 in the Virginian-Pilot’s Currents edition, encouraged folks on both sides of the issue of whether Portsmouth’s Confederate monument should be removed, to “relax.”

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“It’s a big block of North Carolina granite,” she wrote. “It couldn’t hurt anybody unless it fell on them. … It’s a big country. It’s big enough for more than one idea about a lot of things.”

Windley said in the letter that she has two Confederate ancestors, one on her mother’s side and one on her father’s.

Windley first got interested in history after moving to Suffolk, where she lived a total of 20 years — 10 in the downtown area and 10 in North Suffolk. She later moved to Portsmouth, where she had grown up.

“After I graduated from college and got married, we moved to Suffolk, and there really wasn’t anything to do except walk to the Morgan Memorial Library and read books,” she said.

She began checking out historical books and was fascinated, she said.

“It’s like going into another world,” she said. “The culture was different, but the people were the same. People thought the same way that they do now. The human element hasn’t changed.”

Windley’s recent honors — a Distinguished Citizen Medal from the state chapter and the Historic Preservation Recognition from the local chapter — also honor her many years of work for the chapter, which have included looking up documentation to get the chapter house on the National Historic Register and digitizing several years of the chapter’s historic minutes.