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Part 9

100 Movers And Shapers

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Neilson November
(1924- ) b. New York, N.Y.
For the second half of the century, Richmond has had few more articulate, brilliant and effective cheerleaders than Neil November. After a career in the family business, Jefferson Clothing, he turned his considerable energies to a range of interests. In 1976, he was impresario of the Israeli Showcase at the Jewish Community Center and the 50th anniversary "Golden Wings" celebration of the Richmond airport. In 1986 he worked with Gov. Gerald Baliles to establish the Virginia-Israel Commission, a people-to-people exchange. He has raised funds for the Science Museum of Virginia, Theatre IV, Barksdale Theatre and the Lewis Ginter Botanical Gardens ("I don't know a tree from a battleship," he admits). Through it all, his indefatigable wife, Sara Belle, has been at his side.

Thomas Cannon
(1925- ) b. Richmond
Thomas Cannon epitomizes the Bible verse: "Love thy neighbor as thyself" and lives daily the dictum of the golden rule. Since 1972, this 74-year-old retired postal worker has given more than $105,000 of his savings to people he wants to help, people who he says are community activists, who show kindness to animals or children, or who have suffered with physical handicaps: "I give to whoever moves me at the time." Cannon, who tends to the needs of his bedridden wife, Princetta, says of his giving, "Fortunately, I married a woman who was not strong on materialism, she's very free-hearted herself and on that one thing we clicked and it's lasted 53 years." Cannon's generosity has earned him induction into Oprah Winfrey's "Angel Network," the 1998 Oliver W. Hill Citizen of the Year Award, and his own postmark for a U.S. stamp honoring philanthropy. "I never thought of myself as a mover and shaper," laughs Cannon. To those who have been the recipient of his generosity, he's been a godsend.

David S. Kilgore
(1925- ) b. Asheville, N.C.;
Nancy Tanley Kilgore
(1933-1993) b. Clifton Forge
and Muriel Joyce McAuley
(1931-1998) b. Royal Oak, Mich.
If Richmond has uniqueness, it's due to such institutions as Barksdale Theatre, a company that was established in 1953 in an unlikely place. In the best "Daddy says we can have the barn," tradition, six actors, David "Pete" and Priscilla Kilgore, Muriel McAuley, Pat Sharp, Stewart Falconer and Tom Carlin (mostly out-of-towners) established a dinner theater at the 18th-century Hanover Tavern across from the courthouse. It flourished there for some 40 years under the continued leadership of McAuley, Kilgore and his second wife, Nancy. Being part of a Barksdale production was like joining a warm, extended and bright family. Today, the Barksdale still offers challenging theater in new digs at Willow Lawn. Its artistic director, Randy Strawderman, directed such Barksdale hits as "Red, Hot and Cole" and "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat."

Bishop Walter F. Sullivan
(1928- ) b. Washington, D.C.
Since his installation in 1974 as bishop of the Catholic Diocese of Richmond, Walter Sullivan has championed a wide range of causes. While overseeing a growing church, he has advocated for welfare rights, open housing, a more humane prison system, an end to capital punishment, and peace and cooperation between all of the members of Richmond's faith community. On his diverse efforts, Sullivan says, humbly, "The Lord blessed me with lots of energy."

David N. Martin
(1930- ) b. Tucson, Ariz.
The phenomenal growth of The Martin Agency has put Richmond on the advertising map. Much of the credit belongs to the agency's founder, David Martin. Martin founded the agency with partner George Woltz in 1965. Martin left the agency in 1988, but not before crafting the "Virginia is for Lovers" slogan, one of the most recognizable in the nation, and pumping up Martin's billings to a formidable $100 million. Martin, still an active adman, wrote "Romancing the Brand: The Power of Advertising and How To Use It."

L. Douglas Wilder
(1931- ) b. Richmond
Often controversial and probably in equal measures loved and hated, Doug Wilder is and always will be the first black elected governor in the nation, and no one can take the dignity of that Neil Armstrong-like title from him. The grandson of slaves, Wilder grew up in Church Hill and graduated from Virginia Union University. He founded the law firm of Wilder, Gregory & Associates and became a leading criminal defense attorney. In 1969, Wilder won a seat in the state Senate, becoming the first black state senator since Reconstruction. In 1985, he was elected the nation's first black lieutenant governor, followed by his historic election as governor in 1989. With Jesse Ventura-like attention on him from the national press, Wilder mounted an ill-fated run for the presidency less than halfway through his gubernatorial term. Wilder also made headlines for a high-profile feud with U.S. Sen. Charles Robb. His post-gubernatorial career has been a study in almosts - referenced by his aborted Senate bid against Robb and his more recent withdrawal from the presidency of Virginia Union University before he ever took office. These days, Wilder teaches political science and hosts a talk show, where he often weighs in on Richmond and state politics, his comments sometimes creating headlines.

John Shelby Spong
(1931- ) b. Charlotte, N.C.
and Jack D. Spiro
(1933- ) b. New Orleans, La.
In 1974, John Spong, then rector of St. Paul's Episcopal Church, and Jack Spiro, rabbi of Congregation Beth Ahabah, engaged in a series of eight lectures on Judaism, Christianity, and the nature of God. The lectures, held alternately at both congregations, packed in Richmonders and begat the 1975 book, "In Search of Jewish-Christian Understanding." While both men had and have a lasting effect on Richmond, Spong, now bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Newark, N.J., believes the dialogue he engaged in with Spiro, Beth Ahabah's rabbi emeritus and the head of VCU's Center for Judaic Studies, was the most significant mark he made. "I think we really changed the nature of anti-Semitism in that town," Spong says.

Tom Wolfe
(1931- ) b. Richmond
With each new book Tom Wolfe, credited with inventing the "new" journalism, seems to top himself as the sharpest observer and critic of popular culture. "Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test," "Radical Chic and the Mau-Mau Flycatchers," "From Bauhaus to Our House," "The Painted Word," "The Right Stuff," "Bonfire of the Vanities" and his recent "A Man in Full" have established him as the American Thackeray. Although he lives in Manhattan, he is considered the consummate Richmonder - dapper in his white suits and returning regularly to see hometown friends and visit with students at his high school alma mater, St. Christopher's.

Thomas Bliley Jr.
(1932- ) b. Chesterfield County
One of the most powerful members in Congress and possibly the best friend the tobacco industry has, perennially bow-tied conservative Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Bliley has chaired the powerful House Commerce Committee since 1994. A 10-term congressman first elected in 1980, Bliley represents the suburbs of Richmond, Henrico and Chesterfield. An heir to the Joseph W. Bliley Funeral Homes dynasty, he was elected to City Council in 1968. As mayor from 1970 to 1977, he waged and lost a racially charged battle to keep Council seats elected at-large. In Congress, Bliley was a close ally of former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich. He trumpets his record as a battler of monopolies and a promoter of free markets. However, Bliley's critics charge he has been lax against big business, dropping a key investigation of the tobacco industry and allowing the telecommunications industry to write its own regulations.

Henry Marsh
(1933- ) b. Richmond
One of Richmond's preeminent senior statesmen, Henry Marsh has been a political force to be reckoned with for more than three decades. A protégé of legendary civil-rights lawyer Oliver Hill, Marsh argued school desegregation cases as a young lawyer before the U.S. Supreme Court. A champion of black voting rights, he fought to overturn Richmond's at-large ward system and, in 1977, became Richmond's first black mayor, a position he held for five years. Over 10 terms and 25 years on Council, Marsh was known as "King Henry," leading Council's black majority in racial-bloc voting. In 1991, Marsh was elected to the Virginia Senate, where he successfully opposed legislation to create a popularly elected mayor in Richmond. Since the murder of his younger brother and law partner Harold in 1997, Marsh has also been a vocal supporter of gun-control

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