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Accolades continue

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By John Barnhart

    “The accolades that have come to me are greater than they should have been,” commented former Delegate Lacey Putney a few weeks after receiving an honorary doctorate from Liberty University.
    This year marked the first General Assembly session that Putney was not a part of in more than half a century. First elected in 1961, Putney never lost an election in his life. He retired last year after announcing that he would not seek reelection.
    The honorary Doctor of Humanities degree was conferred on Putney at Liberty’s 2014 commencement. In a letter, Jerry Fallwell Jr., Liberty’s chancellor wrote:

 “Throughout your career, you have served us as a model of wise and prudent civic engagement for multiple generations of future leaders, having completed a list of legislative accomplishments  that will likely never be matched again, and having focused principally on the best outcome for your constituents and, more broadly, Virginia, rather than on our own political interests. Moreover, as the most influential representative from the western half of Virginia, you have worked to protect those whose rights and opinions are too often overlooked in favor of those from more wealthy or politically powerful areas. Finally, as the longest serving member of the General Assembly, you have completed a career that is notable not only for it’s extraordinary longevity but also for its impeccable ethics.”

    “I had no idea Liberty or any school would be thinking of a doctorate,” Putney commented.
    Putney was also a honored guest at the graduation of the charter class of Virginia Tech Carilion School of Medicine, in Roanoke.
    During the Tim Kaine administration, Putney introduced a bill that funded higher education projects in Virginia. One project included in Putney’s bill was this medical school. According to Putney, the school has brought medical research people to the Roanoke Valley.
    “They are making great strides in bringing research,” Putney said during an interview. “I had no idea it was going to be such and economic development thing for the Roanoke Valley.”
    Putney was also the cover story for Washington and Lee University’s (W&L) alumni magazine. Putney earned both his undergraduate and his law degree from  W&L. The undergraduate degree was financed by a baseball scholarship.  W&L’s baseball coach recruited him after seeing him play in a high school game.
    Putney had some classmates who became well known later in life.
    One is the Rev. Pat Robertson.   In the magazine article, Putney noted that he and some other students were coming back from a trip to Sweet Briar College, a women’s college. Robertson was driving and was pulled over by a Lexington police officer. The officer recognized the car as belonging to Robertson’s father, a U. S. Senator. He asked if Robertson was Senator Robertson’s son and received an affirmative reply. He started asking the other young men who they were. The first two were the sons of famous people and, when the officer came to the fourth asked, “I guess you’re Robert E. Lee? It turned out that the young man was Robert E. Lee IV, who graduated in W&L’s class of 1949. He is the great grandson of the most famous of Confederate generals.