There’s an important deadline looming for a distinction of which you might not even be aware. It’s the annual Virginian of the Year Award bestowed by the Virginia Press Association.
Nominations from VPA members are due Nov. 1, and the purpose of this column is to seek suggestions from you readers.
The roster of past winners dates to 1967 and is studded with celebrities. Those include musicians Roy Clark, Bruce Hornsby, Ralph Stanley and the Statler Brothers; authors David Balducci, William Styron and Patricia Cornwell; journalists Roger Mudd and James J. Kilpatrick; and politicians such as former Gov. Gerald Baliles and former Sens. Harry F. Byrd Jr., and Hugh Scott. It also includes some titans of industry and NASCAR drivers.
But beginning in 2010 the Virginia Press Association revamped the award. Then VPA vice-president Keith Stickley suggested the focus be steered away from a well-worn list of famous Virginians.
“I said, ‘Why don’t we change this, and take it back to the newspapers?’ ” Stickley told me. They would “nominate people whose good works had changed lives in their communities. It didn’t have to be someone who was famous.”
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