Over 150 well wishers gather to celebrate Dr. Virginia Newell’s 105th birthday

Dr. Virginia Newell (seated in the center) is a trailblazer for the Phi Omega Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority

Over 150 well wishers gather to celebrate Dr. Virginia  Newell’s 105th birthday
October 12
14:22 2022

By Felecia Piggott-Long, Ph.D.

More than 150 family members, sorority sisters and friends gathered at the Salem Lake Marina Center in Winston-Salem on Friday, Oct. 6, to celebrate the 105th birthday of Dr. Virginia K. Newell. A grandmother, author, educator, politician, administrator, sorority member of the Phi Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., Newell is known as an advocate for fair housing, economic justice, and racial equality.

Mayor Allen J. Joines and Rev. Darryl Aaron welcomed the crowd and offered reflections. Mayor Joines and Linda Jackson Barnes presented gifts to the Queen of Honor. The members of Gamma Lambda Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc, WSSU, served as volunteers. Keith Byrd provided musical entertainment. 

Dr. Newell enjoyed the festivities held in her honor. “I thought it was a lovely party that Mayor Joines gave for me. He and his staff gave me an invitation and invited the people. He was a young man when I met him. I was an alderman before he was hired to work for the City. I always support young people,” Newell said. She was so proud to see so many people attending the gathering.

“I did not want to wear people out, but more than 100 people came to celebrate with me. I appreciate everything people have done for me. I appreciate those who took time out to send cards and flowers. Oh, It was wonderful!” Newell said.

“This town is changing. I saw an integrated audience at the party. I knew that at some point and time we would get back together as people,” she continued. “So many people ask me the secret to longevity. I take them right to the Bible – ‘Honor thy father and mother that your days will be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.’ That’s the Bible, honey. It will take you all the way.”

Family members present included Newell’s daughter, Dr. Glenda Newell-Harris, 16th national president, The Links, Incorporated, and her husband, Robert “Bob” Harris, Esq.; her granddaughter, Brittany Harris Beauchman and her husband, Dr. Naseem Beachman, and their daughter, Zara Beachman, 17 months old. Newell’s daughter, Dr. Virginia D. Banks was unable to attend because she was being honored elsewhere for her medical prowess and scholarship in the field.

Newell-Harris offered remarks on behalf of the family and other well-wishers. She read a letter that was offered to her mother as a proclamation from Ethel Wilkes of The Links, Inc. Virginia K. Newell for “reaching the highest heights of membership for 75 years. For offering unselfish service, modeling our creed of doing good, being a bridge-builder, trailblazer, beacon of light, mathematics scholar, public servant, member of the Winston-Salem City Council. You are a mentor, leader, friend, endowed with wit and a heart of gold.”

Newell Harris thanked several in the audience for assisting her and her sister with Mother Newell’s wellbeing and had them stand for recognition. She also recognized a group of “special people” who have received unique encouragement from her mother.

“Some of these helpers assist during the days or nights with plumbing, food preparation, getting to appointments, and so many other services. I cannot thank you enough: Helen Porter, Mary Carroll, Jackie Martin, and Vanessa Mitchell, who even help as nurses. Cynthia and Marshall Jeffries have assisted so much with clerical services. We were childhood friends and I just can’t thank you all enough. Even the sisters of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority and the mayor continue to love on her. We are so grateful for all of you,” Newell-Harris said.

Janet Wheeler, president, Phi Omega, Inc., Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. and Tina Flowers, Esq. vice president of the same, shared reflections. “Our Diamond Member, Dr. V. K., has rendered 84 years of service to our beloved sisterhood. She was instrumental in forming our 501(c)(3) organization known as Phi Omega, Inc., which created our apartment complex. She led this endeavor of equality, justice and fair housing. The City of Winston-Salem has a true jewel in you,” Wheeler said. “Also, in 1986, 36 years ago, she came up with another avenue to make our organization more effective – the birth of our Ivy Arms Apartment and Community Center. She led the charge for this action. Fifty AKA women joined the 501(c) (3) organization. … We can use our voice and our votes. We appreciate it. On your 105th birthday, God bless and thank you.”

Centenarian Dr. Virginia K. Newell was born on Oct. 7, 1917. She completed her undergraduate degree in mathematics at Talladega College in Alabama, her master’s degree at New York University, and her doctoral degree in the field of education at the University of Sarasota.

“I love teaching the most. For those who had me as an instructor, you had someone who loved you. Just as God told Micah – do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with thy God. I hear music all night long. Great is thy faithfulness. Lord, all I have needed, thy hands have provided. Great is thy faithfulness,” said Dr. Virginia Newell.

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