‘Champions’ memorialized

Published 12:00 am Monday, March 17, 2008

MURFREESBORO – Three distinguished careers of service were honored Friday afternoon.

The Northeastern North Carolina Partnership for Public Health (NENCPPH) honored the service of the late Senator Robert L. Holloman and late Representatives Howard J. Hunter Jr. and John D. Hall during a ceremony at Nebo Baptist Church.

All three legislators were heralded as men who championed the need for public health for all citizens of North Carolina.

“These three gentlemen, these three legislative leaders, stood up for the little guy,” said Hertford County Public Health Director Curtis Dickson, who serves as Chairman of the NENCPPH. “They worked hard to provide a better life for all of us, but particularly for the impoverished and for those who needed a helping hand.

“These leaders understood the importance of our critical public health service programs in assisting those in need and in working to overcome the many health disparities of their constituents,” he continued. “They also understood that public health serves the entire population in our efforts to prevent disease, promote health and protect the public everywhere, every day for everybody.”

Dickson said the three men worked diligently to help with the innovative approach of forming six partnerships like the northeastern North Carolina collaborative, which was the first of its kind.

“Our three honorees were part of this innovative new process,” he said. “Their leadership helped to provide the funding to make this innovation successful.”

Senator Robert L. Holloman

The first honoree was Senator Robert L. Holloman, who passed away in January of 2007 after serving four years in the North Carolina Senate. At the time of his death, he represented Senate District Four which was comprised of Bertie, Chowan, Gates, Halifax, Hertford, Northampton and Perquimans counties.

“Senator Robert Holloman accomplished much during his tenure in the state senate and he was widely respected as a rising young leader,” Dickson said. “It was to Senator Holloman that the local health directors turned to seek his support in establishing a public health incubator fund to allow us to carry out our innovative work.

“We greatly appreciate his leadership on our behalf and we want to recognize his legacy,” he closed.

Dickson then presented a plaque to Velma Holloman, the late senator’s widow in honor of his service.

Holloman said she was thankful for those who continued to honor the work of all three men.

“Thank you for all you have done to keep their legacy alive,” she said. “I know what they did will continue to make a difference in the lives of other people. That gives me joy and peace.”

Representative Howard J. Hunter Jr.

Dickson then recognized the family of Representative Howard J. Hunter Jr., who served for more than 10 years in the North Carolina House of Representatives. At the time of his death, he served House District Five made up of Bertie, Gates, Hertford and Perquimans counties.

“Representative Howard Hunter Jr. served his constituents faithfully, first as a county commissioner and then in the state house,” Dickson said. “He worked hard on their behalf on many issues of concern, including public health.

“Rep. Hunter was one of the key House of Representatives sponsors of the public health incubator legislation,” he added. “We also greatly appreciate his leadership on our behalf and we want to recognize his legacy.”

Vivian Hunter received the award on behalf of Howard Hunter III, who could not be at the reception. She thanked the public health leaders in the region for their recognition of Hunter Jr.’s work.

“On behalf of the Hunter family, thank you for this honor,” she said. “Thank you for recognizing the tireless fighting for minorities and those who were in need.

“It was an honor to know him and an honor to know Senator Holloman and Representative Hall,” she closed.

Representative John D. Hall

Representative John D. Hall served three terms in the North Carolina House of Representatives after having served as a Halifax County Commissioner and Scotland Neck Town Council member.

At the time of his death in 2005, he served the Seventh House District representing Halifax and Nash counties.

“Representative John Hall also had a long and honorable career as a county commissioner in Halifax County and in the House of Representatives,” Dickson said. “He was influential in matters related to aging issues, public safety, occupational safety and health and served on the Appropriations Committee.

“He too was supportive of public health issues and his leadership was also helpful to our cause,” he continued. “We greatly appreciate his leadership on our behalf and we want to recognize his legacy.”

Georgette Hall, the late legislator’s sister, accepted the plaque on behalf of her family.

“I am not my brother,” she said. “He would have loved to stand up and talk in front of people.

“Thank you for recognizing him and for your work in public health,” she closed.

The Special Recognition Ceremony was sponsored by the NENC Partnership, the North Carolina Office on Minority Health and Health Disparities and the North Carolina General Assembly.