- Virginia Johnson
Every year, the Memorials Advisory Commission recommends to the City Council the names of up to five citizens deceased for at least five years who have made outstanding contributions to the City of Fredericksburg, Virginia. The Commission relies upon public nominations to determine which individuals to place on the Wall of Honor. Files of information on the honorees are available in the Central Rappahannock Regional Library's Virginiana Room.
On April 11, 2006, five new names will be added to Fredericksburg's Wall of Honor. The 2006 honorees include a civil rights worker, two respected educators, a businessman who increased the stock of the community, and a brave young lady who never let a painful medical condition limit her ability to share her gifts with others.
Lauren A. Davies
Exemplary Community Service in the Face of Catastrophic Illness
December 22, 1956 - Feb 22, 1993, at age 36
Lauren Andrea Davies was diagnosed with sickle cell anemia, an inherited blood disease, when she was only seven months old. The daughter of Reverend Lawrence and Mrs. Janice Davies suffered three major strokes when she was eight and a student at Maury Elementary. These episodes left an imprint physically and mentally, and Lauren became a homebound student. She persevered with her studies and graduated from James Monroe High School in 1976. In 1975, Harambee 360 community youth arts group presented her with a trophy for her fortitude and community involvement. The award was later named for her and presented to a young person exemplifying these attributes at the annual Miss Black Teenage Pageant.
For more than nine years, she worked as an aide to teacher Cleo Lewis at the Anne Hamrick Community House in Fredericksburg. Lauren read stories to the children and taught them their numbers and the alphabet. She had two younger sisters, Sharron Davies and Karen Davies Ward. Karen has a much milder form of the disease, and Lauren would put a brave face on her pain and difficulties so her little sister would not be frightened.
Lauren worked with the elderly as well as with children. She took part in the Dolphin Nursing Home Visitation Ministry of Shiloh (Old Site) Baptist Church. Despite her illness, she was known for her sense of humor and sunny disposition. Gladys Pole Todd, writing as "an 89-year-old senior," said that knowing Lauren helped her to better accept her own physical limitations. Lauren Davies twice received the Mary C. Burnett Community Service Award for community service by a sickle cell patient. Lauren was an award-winning writer as well as an educator and community volunteer. Her poetry often touched on the challenges in her life.
She was a member of the Fredericksburg Sickle Cell Association and the Stroke Club of Fredericksburg. Each year, the Fredericksburg Area Sickle Cell Association awards a scholarship in her honor. To be eligible, the student must be physically challenged with an acute or chronic health problem, physical disability, or impairment. Contact the association, which meets at Shiloh (New Site) Baptist Church, for additional details.
Harry Banks French Franklin
Building a Community with Strong Foundations
October 21, 1918 - May 9, 1989
A native of Plainfield, New Jersey, Harry B.F. Franklin, described as "an eternal optimist" by his friend J. William Poole, came down South to study law at the University of Virginia. He graduated in 1941 and promptly spent four years in the U.S. Navy where he commanded several submarine chasers.
After the war, he married Anne Yates Colbert and settled in Fredericksburg where he practiced law. He was used his skills to help acquire land in Caroline County for the U.S. Army's Fort A.P. Hill. Mr. Franklin became an integral part of the local community and was instrumental in founding several organizations, including the Fredericksburg Jaycees, the Fredericksburg Country Club, and War Memorial Recreations, Inc. He was named Outstanding Young Man of the Year by the Fredericksburg Jaycees. According to his daughter, Elizabeth F. Jacoby, her father was always willing to give back his time and talents to a community that was so good to him.
His leadership led to the growth of many prominent local organizations: the Red Cross, the Fredericksburg Area Community Fund (later known as the Rappahannock United Way), the Veterans of Foreign Wars, and the Rappahannock Area YMCA.
Harry Banks' professional life was no less noteworthy. He was US Commissioner for the Eastern District of Virginia, President of the Fredericksburg Area Bar Association, President of the Junior Chamber of Commerce, State Membership Chairman for the Junior Bar of the American Bar Association, and Director of the Fredericksburg Area Chamber of Commerce. He also served as Associate Justice of the Civil and Police Court and as Substitute Trial Justice of Spotsylvania County. Mr. Banks was also on the Fredericksburg Zoning Commission and served as Secretary-Treasurer on the Board of Directors of Medicorp Properties, Inc.
In addition to these many positions, he was also an active member of St. George's Episcopal Church in Fredericksburg where he served as vestryman, youth group leader, and Sunday school teacher.
Mildred Brown Queen
Getting Out the Vote in Times of Change
July 18, 1913 - August 17, 1996
The 1938 Fredericksburg City Directory lists 25-year-old Mildred Brown of 1505 Charles Street as being employed as a domestic worker, a common occupation for African-American women of the time. Eventually, Ms. Brown's ambitions led her to pursue her further education away from the city. She graduated from Hartshorn High School/College, Richmond, and Virginia State College, Petersburg. She also attended the Elizabeth Arden Beauty College in New York.
Mildred Brown came from a prominent, local African-American family.* Her father, Arthur Brown, owned Brown's Funeral Home (now Bennett's) as well as the Rappahannock Hotel on Princess Anne Street, one of largest hotels for African-Americans in the state. Mildred, in preparing to take part in the family business, also studied at Eckels College of Mortuary Science in Philadelphia.
She and her husband, Andrew Queen, operated Brown's Funeral Home for many years, and she was active in Shiloh (New Site) Baptist Church. Mildred Brown Queen was a successful businesswoman and a local leader in the fight for civil rights of African-Americans in the 1960s. Mrs. Brown was active in the NAACP and took part in the Virginia State Alumni Citizens for Action. She became the first African-American woman to serve on the Fredericksburg Democratic Committee and subsequently served as the committee's delegate to the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago.
Dr. Lewis Fickett, Political Science Professor Emeritus at the University of Mary Washington, and local historian Ruth Fitzgerald wrote that she should be celebrated on the Wall of Honor for her fearless, tireless work to register African-Americans to vote in the 1950s and 60s.
*Source: A Different Story by Ruth Coder Fitzgerald.
Arthur Herman Schwartz
"Mr. Industrial Arts"*
August 20, 1912 - January 13, 1985
Mr. Schwartz worked as supervisor of the Industrial Arts Program from 1941 until his retirement in 1977. His program was considered first rate, and he mentored other teachers in his methods as well as federal officials, and his writings were published in several educational journals. He received the first Virginia Industrial Arts Teacher of the Year Award, given by the American Industrial Arts Association (now known as International Technology Education Association) in 1963. In 1971, he developed the first industrial arts program for elementary school students in the state.
As part of his teaching, he produced an in-house newspaper for students, Industrial Arts News. In 1973, he was nominated to participate in the Outstanding Secondary Educators of America program. In 1975, he was chairman of the state's industrial arts supervisors. When he retired, his teaching materials were given to James Monroe High School and Virginia State University so that others might benefit from his experience.
During the school year, he strongly supported high school sports. He wrote sports articles for the Free Lance-Star and broadcast football games. Nicknamed "the Ticket Man," Art Schwartz could be found at Maury Stadium every Friday night in the fall when there was a home game. In honor of his dedication, the Fredericksburg City School Board named the newly-built sports complex at James Monroe High School in his honor in 1986.
Art Schwartz worked elsewhere for the good of the community. He and his wife were very active in the Fredericksburg Presbyterian Church, serving as both Elder and Clerk of the Session. In the summer, Mr. Schwartz ran the playground program for the City. 1976, he was given an award by the Fredericksburg Kiwanis Club for his outstanding contributions to the city schools and the community.
He was a longtime member of the Fredericksburg Host Lions Club. He served as their President and was their Secretary for 20 years. He also served as Historian of Lions District 24-A. Mr. Schwartz was the first member of the local club to receive the Melvin Jones Fellowship, the highest award given in the organization in recognition of commitment to humanitarian work. Those receiving it exemplify the qualities of generosity, compassion, and concern for the less fortunate.
His daughter, Ann Schwartz Garnett, recalls her father as being "…a dedicated teacher who instilled an educational philosophy that was based on helping students to develop self-direction. Students comment to this day on how he guided them with important decisions in their lives. He was proud of the accomplishments of his students."
*Note: Art Schwartz was proclaimed "Mr. Industrial Arts" in a letter dated March 23, 1976, written by Robert C. Haynes, Superintendent of Fredericksburg City Schools.
Julia Pendleton Tyler
June 26, 1888 - November 25, 1999
Julia Tyler, or "Miss Julia" as she was known to many, was born in Fredericksburg, Virginia and worked as a hair culturist in her home. During her long life she contributed much to the community, both as a member of Shiloh (New Site) Baptist Church and as an early member of the Eastern Star, Celestia Chapter #38, Prince Hall-affiliated. The group participated in community activities and donated money to organizations including Mayfield High School, the Red Cross, and Mary Washington Hospital. They also sponsored student scholarships.
In 1950, she and a friend became concerned about small children who were roaming the streets of the neighborhood while their parents were away. She helped to create Charles Street Community House (Mission School), which was later known as the Anne Hamrick House. This preschool had an excellent reputation for educating students both in matters of early scholarship and character.
"There was a vacant house, so we rented that and started out with 15 or 20 children." Miss Julia said that at the beginning "I did a little of just about everything, was a superintendent of sorts, saw that everything was in order and clean." The Community House was staffed by volunteer teachers and still educates youngsters today.
As Ruth Fitzgerald, local historian, remembers, "Miss Julia was the catalyst and mainstay of a community house which helped hundreds of children BEFORE the school systems had programs for low income residents."
In those times of segregation, she worked to get resources for "her people." Miss Julia promoted scouting, classes on parenting and management skills, music, tutorial programs, voting information, and after school activities. However, her goodness to others had no boundaries based on race. In A Different Story, she recalled those early years:
"In Fredericksburg, people were nice to each other. One person would help another just quickly regardless of who you were or what you were, and down in the area where I lived (Ferdinand Street), we paid no attention to black and white. If your family needed help, we came in. If my family needed help, your folks would come in. That's the way we lived. Everyone was poor, and all helped each other."
Julia Tyler is laid to rest in historic Shiloh Cemetery, at the corner of Monument Avenue and Littlepage Street. Pieces of Our Past: Oral History with Julia Tyler is available to read in the Virginiana Room of the Central Rappahannock Regional Library.