• 63°

Time to honor a great citizen

There’s still time to make your reservations to attend the Suffolk First Citizen celebration on Thursday.

The Rotary clubs of Suffolk and North Suffolk will be honoring local businesswoman, philanthropist and community supporter Lydia Duke for her years of work to improve the community during the event, which is set for 6 p.m. Thursday at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.

The award, given each year since 1956, except for a hiatus from 1999-2002, goes to an outstanding individual who best exemplifies the spirit of citizenship and who has shown significant leadership through his or her time, talents and efforts in order to make Suffolk a better place to live.

Duke joins a list of distinguished honorees that included, last year, Suffolk native and real estate agent Billy Chorey Sr. Others include the now late Robert W. “Bobby” Harrell Jr., Dr. R. Leroy Howell Sr., M. Caroline Martin, former state Sen. Fred Quayle, Douglas Naismith, Delegate Chris Jones, Betsy Brothers, Ross Boone, attorney Whitney Saunders, longtime Councilman Curtis R. Milteer Sr., historian Sue Woodward, former mayor E. Dana Dickens III and others.

Duke, the owner of Duke Automotive, is a past chairperson of the board of directors for Paul D. Camp Community College, served on the board of directors for Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce and the United Way of South Hampton Roads, serves on the Southern Bank Advisory Board for Hampton Roads, served on Obici Hospital’s Ethics Board, and supported numerous local charities and school programs.

She has been a member of the Suffolk Rotary Club for 20 years and a member of Main Street United Methodist Church for 44 years.

She has also been heavily involved, both personally and through her company, in educational programs in Suffolk.

She has been involved in a program that taught young ladies about how to dress for a job interview, set a table and write thank-you notes, among other things. The dealership invites young people each year to come in the afternoon and learn how to file papers and answer phones.

She also was very involved with the Hampton Roads Youth Center, for which she won the Ray of Hope Award in 2004, as well as Paul D. Camp Community College. In 2006, she won the Virginia Community College Systems Chairman’s Award for Service.

Duke is a fine choice for this year’s First Citizen Award, and we hope many Suffolk residents will join the Rotary clubs on Thursday to honor her. To make your reservation, visit www.suffolkrotary.org.