First Citizen nominations sought

Published 6:39 pm Friday, December 17, 2021

The Suffolk and North Suffolk Rotary Clubs are now accepting nominations for Suffolk’s 2022 First Citizen Award.

The award 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 Past 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. The 2022 event will be the first since before the COVID-19 pandemic.

The 2019 recipient was Dr. L.D. Britt. Britt graduated as valedictorian from Booker T. Washington High School in Suffolk. He went on to graduate from the University of Virginia, Harvard Medical School and Harvard School of Public Health.

Britt is the Henry Ford Professor and Edward J. Brickhouse Chairman of the Department of Surgery at Eastern Virginia Medical School. He was the first African American in the country to have an endowed chair in surgery. He is board-certified by the American Board of Surgery and the author of more than 300 scientific publications, editor of four books and more.

He has held such esteemed positions as president of the American College of Surgeons, chair of the Board of Regents of the American College of Surgeons, president of the American Surgical Association and more. He is a recipient of the nation’s highest teaching award in medicine, the Robert J. Glaser Distinguished Teaching Award, given by the American Association of Medical Colleges in conjunction with the national medical honor society, Alpha Omega Alpha.

In October of this year, Britt continued making headlines by receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award from the American College of Surgeons at the organization’s annual Clinical Congress, one of the world’s largest educational gatherings of surgeons. He is only the fifth surgeon to receive the award during the ACS’s 108-year history.

Other prior recipients have included author Karla Smith; 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; the late 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; former mayor, the late Andy Damiani; and former Virginia governor, the late 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 Jan. 31.

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 April 12 at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts. Profits from the First Citizen event will be donated to charitable organizations.