PORTSMOUTH-- City officials Monday night, paid tribute to former Portsmouth Mayor James W. Holley on the front steps of Portsmouth City Hall.

Each council member spoke about the colorful former mayor, recalling how Holley helped integrate city libraries, restaurants and golf courses

Mayor Kenny Wright said, 'I have known Dr. Holley all of my life. I'm only 49 years old. To be a grown man and grow up under his tutelage and watch him operate in all those capacities as well as to be the mayor inspired me to want to do what I do today.'

Wright read a proclamation and then presented it to Holley's family. Taps was played and city flags were lowered to half-staff in Holley's memory.

Holley died Friday after suffering a stroke. He was 85.

He broke color barriers by becoming Portsmouth's first African-American council member and the city's first African-American mayor. He served several terms as mayor but was recalled twice.

A life-celebration service, open to the public, will be held from 5-7 p.m. Thursday at Willett Hall, 3701 Willett Drive. The center seats 2,000 people.

Read or Share this story: