Darden Jr., Governor of Virginia during
WW II and just about everything else,
is one giant I never met. Many, including
the Pilots Guy Friddell, thought
he was the greatest Virginian since
Darden gave this cookbook by the Garden
Club of Virginia to her big brother
in 1942. She inscribed the bookColgate,
A conversation piece when
you are engaged in conversation by
members of this worthy organization.
is the central staircase to Colgate
and Connie Dardens home on Flicker
to Frank and Jane Battens son,
I was able to photograph the home
before it was demolished.
The Dardens And The
Crossing Paths With Greatness
By Gary Ruegsegger
Downtowner Senior Editor
Norfolk is teeming with incredible people and you
never know when youll bump into one or two.
Ive written about mayors, soldiers and journalists,
but Ive met many other great folks in the
Colgate Darden Jr., Governor of Virginia during
WWII and just about everything else, is one giant
I never met. Many, including the Pilots Guy
Friddell, thought Colgate was the greatest Virginian
since Thomas Jeerson. e Governor and is wife
Connie DuPont Darden lived on Norfolks Flicker
Point. I always wished Id met them.
The closest I came to meeting them was at Connies
funeral. Her nephew Harvey Lindsay delivered the
eulogy. His mother Katherine Darden Lindsay was
Colgates sister and perhaps the states
I never met her either, but I have a cookbook by
the Garden Club of Virginia she gave her big brother
in 1942. She inscribed the bookColgate,
A conversation piece when you are engaged
in conversation by members of this worthy organization.
Katherine. I am told she is the reason there
are no billboards on Virginias Interstate
To say Harvey Lindsay is a gifted speaker is an
understatement. At the funeral I asked him for a
copy of his remarks and in two days it arrived in
the mail. at was typical of Mr. Lindsay.
I once was doing a Compass story on one of the many
honors the community had bestowed on Harvey. I left
a message on his answering machine and two days
later he called me and apologized for not immediately
returning my call. He had just had knee surgery.
One of Harveys uncles was the Governor of
Virginia and the other one (Pretlow Darden) was
the Mayor of Norfolk. Proving the acorn doesnt
fall far from the tree, Pretlows son Josh
was another community giant.
The late Josh Darden led the Norfolk Community
Foundation for years and as owner of Colonial Chevrolet
he helped countless folks get into the automobile
business. Once when I was doing a Compass article
on Prioritys Dennis Elmer, Joshs name
came up and Elmer proudly said, Im one
of Joshs boys.
The countless stories of Josh Darden just seemed
to come to me. Celestyne Diggs Porter remembered
when Josh as a little boy accompanied his father
and his uncle the Governor to her uncle African
American attorney J. Eugene Diggs home to
go over some papers establishing Norfolk State on
the old Community Golf Course.
Joshs childhood tree house was across the
street from his family home on Commonwealth Avenue.
Roy B. Martin Jr., a future Norfolk mayor, bought
the property and had the tree cut down to build
his home. When I recalled the story to Josh, it
was about the only time I didnt see him smiling.
I once had lunch with Josh at the Town Point Club.
By the way, if you didnt know, Joshs
club number was 007. He really liked that number.
The last time I saw Josh was when he was going
back to work after attending the groundbreaking
for the Slover Library.
He asked me if I was going to the library. I told
him I wasnt invited. He said, You should
go. If anyone asks, just say, Josh sent me.
Nobody questioned. Jane Batten signed the program
Now, that brings us to the Batten family. I met
the late Frank Batten, longtime owner and publisher
of the Virginian-Pilot, at the Norfolk Central School
Oces. Superintendent Simpson started to introduce
me to Mr. Batten when the publisher said, I
already know Gary.
Josh Darden and Frank Batten co-founded the ACCESS
Scholarship Program over lunch one day. ACCESS has
leveraged over $500 million in nancial aid and
scholarships for students in South Hampton Roads.
All students in Norfolk, Virginia Beach, Portsmouth,
Chesapeake, Suolk and Northampton County public
schools are eligible to apply.
Like his good friend Josh Darden, Frank Batten has
been very generous to the local area. Norfolks
downtown Slover Library was a gift from the Batten
family. The library is named for Sam Slover, Franks
uncle, a former publisher of The Virginian Pilot
and a once Mayor of Norfolk.
Bill McIntosh, arguably the greatest photographer
Hampton Roads has ever produced, fondly recalls
the three portraits he took of Mr. Batten.
Frank was always gracious and easy to photograph
with a good smile. I asked him if he received phone
calls from customers when they did not receive their
morning paper. He said, From time to time,
remembered Bill McIntosh with a smile.
I met Franks wife at George Tuckers
annual birthday parties. She was one of the sponsors
and a great friend of George. Tucker said, Shes
a member of my sewing circle. Mr. Batten and
George often ate together in the Virginian-Pilots
cafeteria. Frank and
Janes son Frank is just as generous
and down to earth as his parents.
I once called him at the Pilot when I heard that
he bought Colgate Dardens old home at Flicker
Point and because of structural damage was going
to have to tear down the house. I asked if I could
take a few photos of the home. He agreed and met
me at the residence the next day.
I wrote Frank Sr. a note saying what a surprising
and unselfish gesture that was. The father sent
me a note back saying both he and Jane were very
proud of their son. He even made a reference to
my good friend George at the end of the note: Yes,
very proud and Georgewell, hes as sprightly
My memories of the Battens and the Dardens are just
as alive and sprightly as ever.