Davis honor well-deserved

Published 9:42 am Thursday, October 15, 2009

Saturday night my wife and I had the opportunity to attend a banquet at Roanoke-Chowan Community College honoring DuPont L. Davis as Citizen of the Year.

I had planned on attending the banquet from the time I received the invitation because it was certainly a news-worthy event, but more importantly I wanted to be there to support a man I feel was more than worthy of the recognition.

I have been covering the Hertford County Commissioners on and off for more than a dozen years. When I first covered a meeting, Davis was already a veteran on the board and was at that time serving as chairman of the board.

It didn’t take long to find out that Davis can be outspoken, blunt and tough. He has questioned county department heads, county managers and fellow commissioners when he was uncomfortable with a proposal or heard a statement with which he didn’t agree.

He didn’t do so to embarrass people, however. He did it to get to the bottom of a subject, to gain information or to find out what he felt was best for the citizens of Hertford County. He is a consummate commissioner who gives his all, day in and day out for the citizens who elected him to serve.

During Saturday night’s festivities, Hertford County Manager Loria D. Williams asked for a show of hands from those who had been on the receiving end of one of Davis’s tongue-lashings. Hands went up from judges, county employees, friends, fellow commissioners and even one from this reporter.

Davis is well-known for speaking his mind and doing so without apology. That may at times have earned him some enemies, but it has also earned him the respect of the people who elected him to serve.

His success for the people of Ahoskie, Hertford County and northeastern North Carolina is well-documented.

While many others took a shot at preserving the North Carolina Employment Security Commission office in Ahoskie, it was Davis who was the driving force behind having it returned to this community. He was also instrumental in the location of Nucor and Rivers Correctional.

In addition, Davis was elected to serve a previous term as President of the North Carolina Association of County Commissioners.

The citizens of Hertford County owe Davis a debt of gratitude and some of it was repaid Saturday night thanks to Roanoke-Chowan Community College honoring Davis as Citizen of the Year. Judges, commissioners, friends, family and others took time out to honor Davis for his work as a public servant and family man.

While he was there for the Citizen of the Year Award, Davis was also honored by North Carolina Governor Bev Perdue with the Order of the Long Leaf Pine. That award is the highest civilian honor offered in North Carolina and one that it was obvious was special to Davis.

I was happy to be there when Davis received the award. It was one he certainly deserved and one I appreciated being present when he received.

As a side note, while everyone enjoyed dinner Saturday night, Davis took time to walk around and speak to people at every one of 20-plus tables. He thanked people, shook hands, hugged necks and posed for photos. It was typical of the man who gives so much to others.

While I’m not a citizen of Hertford County, I can honestly say he has been an asset to this community – the entirety of eastern North Carolina – and I was happy to be in a group of people honoring him for his lifetime of service.

I will echo the sentiment of Judge Cy Grant when I say I am proud to call DuPont Davis friend.

Thadd White is Staff Writer and Sports Editor of the Roanoke-Chowan News-Herald. He can be reached via email at thadd.white@r-cnews.com or by telephone at 332-7211.