Deadline extended for 2023 First Citizen nominations

Published 5:05 pm Tuesday, July 11, 2023

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In search of the 2023 First Citizen, Suffolk and North Suffolk Rotary clubs have extended the deadline through Monday, July 17 for nominations.

“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 has been awarded each year since 1956, except for a hiatus from 1999-2002. It honors 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.

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Started by the Cosmopolitan Club, presentation of the award ended in 1999 when the club disbanded. 

Suffolk Rotary Club took up the mantle in 2003, and North Suffolk Rotary Club joined in the recognition several years ago. 

Harry Lee Cross III received the honor in 2022. Other prior recipients include: Dr. L.D. Britt; 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; Sen. Fred Quayle; Dr. Doug Naismith; Del. 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 17.

Nomination forms can be found on the Suffolk Rotary Club website at 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 2023 winner will be honored with a Sept. 21 reception at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts. Profits from the First Citizen event are donated to charitable organizations.