Carroll and Gloria Creecy named First Citizens in Portsmouth
March 20, 2013
That's a First: A pair of First Citizens
FOR THE FIRST TIME, Portsmouth's First Citizen Award will honor a couple.
From The Portsmouth Currents for The Virginian-Pilot by Pamela Nichols and Cherise M. Newsome
William Carroll Creecy and wife Gloria have been selected by former First Citizens as the 2012 recipients of the award given since 1932 by the Portsmouth Service League. The award honors people whose public service has enhanced the city.
Each of the Creecys was raised in the city and both graduated from Wilson High School.
Carroll, as he prefers to be called, witnessed community involvement early on. His mother, Katherine, owned Westhaven's Kee Dee Nursery and was a founding member of West End United Methodist Church.
Carroll's aunt Betty Hoover was a Woman's Club of Portsmouth president. His Uncle Dan Vick led Westhaven's Boy Scout troop No. 220. He adopted his family's long history of civic engagement.
For example, Carroll led founding efforts for Bon Secours Maryview Medical Center's heart pavilion. "That was important to me because my father died of heart disease," he said. "If you have a heart attack and its 5'oclock in the afternoon you can't get to Norfolk. So I felt like we needed one on this side of the river, and a lot of people felt the same way."
Of all of his efforts, Carroll says, he is particularly proud of the endowment he helped create that provides a full basketball scholarship at his alma mater, Old Dominion University.
In their younger years, Gloria stayed at home and reared their three children while Carroll helped establish the Portsmouth-based business Sales Systems Limited which sells industrial fasteners, nuts and bolts. As their children got older, she too began investing more in the community. Gloria has served Girls Inc. since 1995 and co-founded the group's Strong, Smart & Bold award,an annual recognition of women who have helped their communities.
Gloria has seen the fruit of The Elizabeth River Project, one of the volunteer endeavors. Her Western Branch home sits on Sterns Creek, where oysters, clams and water fowl are abundant, in stark contrast to the time before the group began the work of cleaning the river.
Betty Jo Gwaltney, executive director of The Portsmouth Partnership and friend of the Creecys, praised their community service. "They are both so deserving," she says of the couple. "They are genuine, caring people who've been very generous with their time, expertise and resources."
The Currents asked the Creecys to reflect on their service experiences.
How do you feel about being one of Portsmouth's First Citiszens?
Completely humbled. I know so many people who do so much. It's like who, us? We're very, very honored.
What do you love the most about Portsmouth?
The people... It's my family here. My sisters and I were educated here, our friends are all here, our livelihoods are here, it's home. The people are real and caring and genuine.
What's it like working with your husband in the community?
He's my partner. We've done a lot together.
Your first name is William. Why do you prefer to be called "Carroll"?
When I was born, my grandfather was William, my father was William, and my two uncles were William, and then some cousins were in high school and they were William. So my mother decided that she wanted to call me by my middle name.
When did you get involved and why is it important to give back to the community?
When you're young and you have children it's really difficult to really do things and give...Once we were more established, once our children went to college and moved out, we started picking charities we liked and tried to help them.
What advice would you give to a young person who wanted to start a business like you did?
Today's so tough. There's so many regulations...In my type of business you would have to have a background in it...You really have to save some money.