7 honored in 2019 Strong Men & Women in Virginia History program

Free Press staff report | 2/15/2019, 6 a.m.
Seven outstanding African-American leaders were celebrated during the seventh annual “Strong Men & Women in Virginia History” awards program Feb. ...

Prince William County Schools named an elementary school for her located on a street named for her oldest daughter Benita Fitzgerald Mosley, a 1984 Olympic gold medalist in the 100 meter hurdles.

Deanna Reed was the first African-American woman mayor elected in Harrisonburg, located in Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley. The city experienced a historic moment when Ms. Reed was elected to serve both on the city council in 2016 and the first to be chosen mayor by the council.

There have been only three women and three African-Americans to serve on council. The last time a woman served as Harrisonburg’s mayor was in 2006.

As mayor, Ms. Reed focuses on education and strives to bring together Harrisonburg’s diverse communities. In 2018, Essence named her to its list of Woke 100 Women, which highlights African-American change agents.

William T. Stone, a Williamsburg judge and civic leader, made history in 1968 when he was one of the first African-Americans appointed to the judiciary in Virginia.

Mr. Stone was admitted to the bar in 1962 and appointed a substitute judge in Williamsburg and James City County in 1968, presiding over cases in general district court and juvenile and domestic relations court for 30 years.

While sitting on the bench he continued to practice law and to operate the family’s funeral home, becoming a mentor for African-Americans in both fields. He resigned as a judge in 1998 and retired from practicing law the following year.

At a public event in 2000, Williamsburg residents honored Mr. Stone for his many accomplishments. In commemoration of his legacy and commitment to the community, a major thoroughfare in Williamsburg has been dedicated in his honor.

Mr. Stone, a founding member of Omega Psi Phi Fraternity’s Zeta Mu Mu Chapter in Williamsburg, and a member of the Masons and the Elks, died Thursday, Jan. 18, 2018.

Dr. Gladys B. West, from King George County, a mathematician, educator and a “hidden figure” in the development of GPS technology, has officially been honored for her work.

Born in rural Dinwiddie County, Dr. West graduated first in her high school class, earning a scholarship to Virginia State College (now Virginia State University), where she earned a bachelor’s in mathematics in 1952 and a master’s degree in 1955.

The following year she began working at the Naval Surface Warfare Center at Dahlgren and was the second African-American woman hired at the base, among a total of four African-American employees.

Her skill in calculating complex mathematical equations was greatly admired by her colleagues as she excelled in programming for computers. Dr. West emerged as an integral part of the team that developed the modern Global Positioning System and was recognized for doing the computing responsible for creating the GPS System.

In 2000. Dr. West received a Ph.D. in public administration and policy affairs from Virginia Tech and in 2018 the British Broadcasting Corporation named her to its 100 Women program, which annually honors global influential women.

That same year the General Assembly of Virginia passed a joint resolution honoring her pioneering career and contributions to technological development.