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First Citizen nominations open

The Suffolk and North Suffolk Rotary Clubs are now accepting nominations for Suffolk’s 2019 First Citizen Award.

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.

“We are seeking nominations in the community, because we know there’s a lot of people who do a lot of good deeds, and it’s great for people to be able to step up and nominate them,” Suffolk Rotary Club President Susan Blair said. “It’s always such an honor to be recognized for that type of thing.”

The award was started by the Cosmopolitan Club but ended in 1999 when the club disbanded. The Suffolk Rotary Club took up the mantle in 2003, and the North Suffolk Rotary Club joined in the recognition several years ago. Initially, members of the clubs were disqualified from being nominated, but that was changed in recent years.

Last year’s recipient was Karla Jean Smith. Other prior recipients have included local businessman John Harrell; car dealership owner Lydia Duke; real estate agent Billy Chorey Sr.; the late Robert W. “Bobby” Harrell Jr.; Dr. R. Leroy Howell; M. Caroline Martin; Sen. Fred Quayle; Dr. Doug Naismith; Delegate Chris Jones; farmer and former City Councilman Joe Barlow; Betsy Brothers, who was active in renovating Suffolk High School to become the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts; community activist W. Ross Boone; attorney Whitney Saunders; longtime City Councilman Curtis Milteer; historian Sue Woodward; former Mayor E. Dana Dickens; businessman George Birdsong, longtime General Assembly member Sam Glasscock; dentist Dr. George Barnett; former Mayor Andy Damiani; and former Gov. Mills E. Godwin Jr.

“I think the ideal First Citizen’s qualities are that they do things in the spirit of community, but they don’t want any recognition,” Blair said. “They do it for the love of community, for the love of the people.”

Nominees must be residents of Suffolk, and nominations must be postmarked by July 26.

Nomination forms can be found on the Suffolk Rotary Club website at www.suffolkrotary.org. Attach letters of endorsement to the application. When complete, mail to Suffolk Rotary Club, c/o First Citizen, P.O. Box 1972, Suffolk, VA 23439-1972.

The reception honoring the recipient will be held Sept. 26 at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts. Profits from the First Citizen event will be donated to charitable organizations.

To make a reservation or sponsor the event, contact any Suffolk or North Suffolk Rotarian or visit the Suffolk Rotary Club website at www.suffolkrotary.org.