Our Heroes

Hometown Legends

The City of Suffolk has a rich history of diverse leaders and contributors that have all had an important impact in making the city what it is today.

Obici Wife

Learn about our legends

James Avery

James LaRue Avery (November 27, 1945 – December 31, 2013) was an American actor and poet. He was best known for his roles as Philip Banks in The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air, Shredder in Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles…

Stringfellow Barr

Born in Suffolk, Virginia, Barr was a historian, author, and former president of St. John’s College in Annapolis, Maryland, where he, together with Scott Buchanan, instituted the Great Books curriculum.

Private James Bowser

The only known negro from Nansemond County to fight in the American Revolution

Dr. L.D. Britt

Dr. L.D. Britt was the first African American in the U.S. to receive an endowed chair in surgery at a major medical school (EVMS) and was named a Suffolk First Citizen in 2019.

Charlie Byrd

Charlie Byrd was born in Suffolk and raised in the northern community of Chuckatuck. Inspired by local musicians who congregated at his father’s general store, Byrd began studying the guitar at age 10.

Col. Fred Cherry

Colonel Fred Vann Cherry was a Suffolk-born Air Force fighter pilot, whose plane was downed by enemy fire in 1965 during the Vietnam War. Cherry was the first and highest ranking Black U.S. officer held as a prisoner of war.

Michela English

Michela English retired in June 2005 after more than 3 terms as a member of Virginia’s Sweet Briar College (SBC) Board of Directors.

Judith Godwin

Suffolk’s own, Judith Godwin, is a renowned artist who’s Abstract Expressionism has won her critical acclaim.

Mills E. Godwin

The only Governor elected twice by popular vote, General Assembly and as Lieutenant Governor.

Ryan Speedo Green

Green was born in Suffolk, Virginia. He claimed his middle name was derived from his father: “I was born on April Fools’ Day, and my father, who considers himself quite a funny man, thought he would name me — he’s a bodybuilder — after his favorite sporting brand.

Mike and Ike Matina 

The Matina siblings were born in Hungary to a tailor, John Matina, and his wife, Maria. Twins Bela and Matjus, who came to be known as Mike and Ike, respectively, were born on March 15

Bobby Norfleet

Bobby Norfleet calls Suffolk his hometown but is truly home on the race track.

Amedeo Obici

The story of Amedeo Obici (Ah-may-day-o O-bee-chee) is one born of an Italian immigrant’s hard work and ambition.

LaSallie “Sallie” Corbell Pickett

Chuckatuck native, LaSalle Pickett outlived her husband, General George E. Pickett, by 5 decades, spending much of her widowhood as an author and lecturer on the Civil War.

Lewis Powell, Jr.

An Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, Powell was known as a master of compromise and consensus building.

Della H. Raney

Raney was the first African-American nurse commissioned as a Lieutenant in the U.S. Army Nurse Corps (ANC) during World War II.

Moses A. Riddick

Passionate about serving Suffolk and a tireless advocate for voting rights, Moses A. Riddick served almost five decades in the county, city, and state government. He is credited for opening the door for many who entered the political arena, and was instrumental in bringing Martin Luther King, Jr. to speak at a Freedom Rally in Suffolk in 1963.

Dr. Margaret W. Reid

Dr. Margaret W. Reid was the first Black female doctor in the city of Suffolk. She donated her extensive collection of African art, books, slides, records, and other memorabilia to the Morgan Memorial Library.

Hope Spivey

Suffolk native Hope Spivey competed in gymnastics on the national and international level for 11 years, capping her career as a member of the U.S. Olympic team.

Gilbert Hume Woodward

Lieutenant General Gilbert Hume Woodward

Born in Suffolk, Lieutenant General Gilbert Hume Woodward was a United States Army officer who served in World War II, the Korean DMZ Conflict and the Vietnam War.

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