RICHMOND, Va. (WAVY / AP) – Governor Ralph Northam has dedicated a newly renovated historic state building complex in Richmond in honor of one of Virginia’s foremost and longest-serving civil rights leaders, as well as others who have had an impact on the Republic.
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“Today is about honoring the good people who have served Virginia with great distinction, both today and in the past,” said Governor Ralph Northam. “I especially want to thank and honor the Townes family. They made Pam and my stay in the Executive Mansion a very happy time in our lives. Virginia is a better place thanks to the Townes family.
On Friday, a set of three historic houses on Capitol Square was dedicated “Reid’s Row”. They will pay tribute to Dr. William Ferguson “Fergie” Reid. Reid in 1967 became the first African American elected to the General Assembly after Reconstruction.
“Thanks on behalf of the Reid family for the Reid Row name,” said Dr. William Ferguson Reid, 96, who participated via video from his home in California. “I want to congratulate the Townes family, the Sargent family and the Dowdy family for their accomplishments. “
During the conversation, he recounted his experience working to get more Virginians on the electoral rolls at a time when Virginia was still isolated and used voting barriers as a means of limiting the registration of black voters.
One house, in particular, has been named ‘Townes House’, in honor of the Townes family who have served as the Executive Mansion since the 1970s. Nine members of the Townes family, over three generations, have provided impeccable service and generous hospitality to residents and guests of the Executive Mansion.
There are currently four members of the Townes family working in the mansion – Martin “Tutti” Townes, his wife Stephanie Townes, son Martin Townes Jr. and daughter Cherry Townes.
“I know my mom is smiling at Virginia today”, said Tutti Townes, Chief Butler at the Executive Mansion.
Northam also dedicated the “Sargent Building” in honor of First Lieutenant Ruppert L. Sargent, the first African-American officer to receive the Medal of Honor.
Sargent was a native of Hampton who was killed in action during the Vietnam War. An office building in the town of Hampton is also named after him.
Finally, the renovated North Drive entrance will honor Senior Capitol Police Officer Woodrow W. “Buddy” Dowdy III at the new Guardhouse at Station 1.
He was a Capitol Police officer for 33 years and spent the last decade of his service assigned to Station 1. Dowdy died on March 9, 2021.
“Buddy was an exceptional policeman, a dear friend and a good man,” said Col. Steve Pike, Chief Constable of the Capitol. “We all miss him dearly. “
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