It was a time of transformation for the city, which was once described as moving from "a sleepy community into a vibrant, vital city" under Kilgore's watch.

The bold and imaginative mayor helped create the city's commerce department — a forerunner to today's economic development and tourism efforts. The retail corridor on Mercury Boulevard and the opening of Coliseum Mall were directly related to her growth efforts.

The Hampton champion died in 2001, a few days before her 78th birthday.

Jessie Rattley

Across city lines, Jessie Rattley pioneered the position as first black and first woman elected to the Newport News City Council. From 1986 to 1990 — the last four years of a 20-year council stint — Rattley served as the city's first black and first female mayor.

Remembered as an advocate for the southeastern community, Rattley fought to win millions in urban renewal funds for the city. She also championed investments into what is now known as Jefferson Lab, and much of the northern and western parts of Newport News grew under her watch, attracting employers like Canon to the area.

Her fighting spirit was memorialized in 2001, when her body lay in state in city council chambers for five hours. Local historians believe she was the first person ever accorded such an honor in the city.

Mary T. Christian

Described as a woman of perseverance and inspiration, Christian has been a noted educator and champion of health issues and families. In 1985, she became the first black person to be elected to the Virginia House of Delegates since Reconstruction. She served for 18 years before retiring in 2004.

Raised in Hampton, she graduated from Hampton Institute, now Hampton University, with highest honors and a bachelor's degree in elementary education. After obtaining a master's degree from Columbia University in 1960, she joined the HU faculty and eventually became dean of the School of Education. Christian earned her doctorate from Michigan State University in 1967.

Christian is the first black woman to serve on the Hampton City School Board, from 1973 to 1979. She has been a strong advocate for numerous community initiatives. The Mary T. Christian Auditorium at Thomas Nelson Community College is named for her.

Mary Peake

This free black Hampton woman ran a clandestine school for African-Americans before the Civil War, helping to create an unusually literate, well-educated community of slaves and free blacks who played crucial roles in the "contraband" slave settlements that led to emancipation.

She also was the first teacher hired by the American Missionary Association for the pioneering contraband slave schools that later developed into Hampton University, and she continued to be a symbol of African-American aspiration long after her premature death in 1862.

Sylvia Zucker

Since 1965, The Sarah Bonwell Hudgins Center in Hampton has provided services for those with intellectual and developmental disabilities, including autism, Down syndrome and cerebral palsy. It sits on 38 acres, includes four group residential homes, a child development center open to all, and day programs and workshops for adults and seniors. It carries the name of the mother-in-law of a major benefactor, Chester Carlson of New York, but it owes its existence to Sylvia Feldman Zucker.

A behind-the-scenes powerhouse, Zucker, herself a New York transplant, raised millions for the center, which operates on private donations. She was its first executive director and held that position for almost two decades. She continued her involvement with the center's foundation until her retirement in 1994, when James C. Windsor, chairman of the board, said, "Sylvia is the best validation I know of the notion that one person can make a difference."

Zucker died in 2009 at the age of 91. Friends described her as personable, driven, unselfish, and having a passion for helping those with intellectual and developmental disabilities lead productive lives through work and play.

Flora D. Crittenden

A former educator, whose name is now on a Newport News middle school (formerly G.W. Carver High School) Flora Crittenden's influence is felt all through the region. She was born in Brooklyn in 1924 and her family moved to Newport News in 1937, where she attended Huntington High, a segregated high school. She recalled that the supportive atmosphere and committed teachers she encountered there "made me blossom." In 1949, she started teaching at G.W. Carver High School, having earned a degree in health and physical education. In all, she spent more than 30 years as an educator and guidance counselor.

She went on to become a council member and served in 11 sessions of the Virginia General Assembly as a state delegate representing the 95th district. She was known throughout her career for her support of public education, welfare reform and voting rights. She was honored for her support of the Newport News Drug Court and was inducted into the Hampton-Newport News Community Services Board Hall of Fame for her commitment to its mission. She retired from public service in 2003 at age 78.