The Suffolk and North Suffolk Rotary Clubs honored Dr. R. Leroy Howell with the First Citizen Award on Thursday evening at the Suffolk Center for Cultural Arts.
Howell is a dentist, former City Council member, Army veteran, Oakland Christian Church member, leader at United Church Homes and Services, Elon University graduate and trustee emeritus, Boy Scout leader, member of the Suffolk Rotary Club and Chuckatuck Ruritan Club, and more.
But most importantly, Howell simply serves whenever and wherever needed, said Sam Glasscock, a lifelong friend of Howell’s and also a former First Citizen honoree.
“Leroy, throughout his life, has shown the qualities we all admire,” Glasscock said. “He’s a humble person — always has been, always will be. I’ve never seen him when he was down.”
Glasscock said Howell is “the kind of person who wears his faith not on his sleeve, but in his smile.”
Hundreds of attendees included Howell’s family and friends, employees at his dental practice and people with whom he has served in various organizations.
A video production on Howell featured his family, elected officials and colleagues honoring him with memories and stories.
The Rev. Janet Weidler, interim pastor at Oakland Christian Church, called Howell “one of the greatest blessings for our congregation.”
Glasscock said he believes Howell is the antidote for all the evil in the world.
“The way to fight those people is with men like Leroy,” Glasscock said. “He is a challenge to all of us to provide public service.”
Howell demonstrated his many good qualities — particularly humility and optimism — in his speech.
“I’m an optimist,” he said. “I think everyone can volunteer, no matter who you are … everyone has something to contribute.”
Howell told of a few fruit trees he is getting ready to plant.
“I may not see the fruit of that tree; I may not ever eat of it; I might never sit in the shade of those trees. But I know somebody will.”