DINWIDDIE COUNTY, Va. (WWBT) - Two Dinwiddie residents have been honored as 2021′s Hometown Heroes, highlighting their backgrounds in law enforcement and agriculture in honor of Black History Month.
Carolyn A. Smith, a life-long resident of Dinwiddie County, was honored for her contributions to law enforcement.
Dinwiddie native John W. Bonner was honored for his contributions to the community through agriculture.
“It was an honor to serve on the selection committee for the 2021 Hometown Heroes program. I feel these are two outstanding honorees,” said Harrison Moody, vice-chair of the Dinwiddie Board of Supervisors. “As a farmer, I am especially pleased to see those recognized for contributions in agriculture category. Local farmers feed America.”
Smith, born Carolyn Ann Crittendon, graduated from Dinwiddie High School in 1973 and began her career with the school system as a driver. In 1982, she was hired as a dispatcher. She said it felt like her calling, and she had no interest in becoming Deputy Sheriff.
Low and behold, after three years on the job, she was promoted to a deputy sheriff. Smith was the first female and first African-American female deputy in the county’s history.
After extensive training, Smith achieved the distinction of master deputy in 2000. Her strong work ethic was recognized in January 2008 and she was promoted to the rank of sergeant of the Civil Process Division. She held this position until her retirement in 2009.
“Carolyn’s passion to serve, her tireless work and compassion for the community never wavered,” said Sheriff D.T. “Duck” Adams, who nominated Smith. “She helped pave the way for others to achieve opportunities in law enforcement and provide our great County with top law enforcement service. We salute her and have eternal gratitude for her service to the Citizens of Dinwiddie County.”
She’s been married to her husband, Harry, for 21 years and they have one daughter and three grandchildren. Smith is also a survivor of breast cancer, and still walks four miles per day, four days a week.
Bonner was raised on a Dinwiddie County farm as the son of sharecroppers. He attended school in the county and earned his General Equivalency Diploma while serving in the United States Army. He served 26 years in the U.S. Army and Army Reserves, spending one year in Vietnam.
Bonner has held a variety of positions over the years — including a security guard at Fort Lee, truck driver for Pet Dairy and a night manager at Virginia State University — but farming has always been in his background. Bonner worked alongside his father and brother on the family farm.
“As hard as I tried to get away from farming, it must have been in my blood, because I always came back home to farm,” Bonner said. “For as long as I can remember, my family has raised hogs.”
Bonner, his father and his brother worked closely with John Boyd, founder and president of the National Black Farmers Association, in the fight for justice and equity for Black farmers. They were among the original plaintiffs filing suit against the United States Department of Agriculture in the 1990s for discriminatory practices.
Bonner married his high school sweetheart in 1965, and they have three children, seven grandchildren, one deceased, and eight great-grandchildren. He’s active at his church, Mount Level Baptist Church, and serves as chair of the diaconate ministry and interim pastor.
He’s also committed to getting younger folks involved in agriculture through workshops and greenhouse technology.
At age 75, Bonner says he’s not familiar with the term “idle time.” Staying active and working hard are his secrets to a long, healthy life.
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