Marlene West Randall
Marlene West Randall, the daughter of the late James E. West and Gladys West Pretlow, was born on October 18, 1934 and raised in South Norfolk. On Thursday, April 1, 2021, she peacefully made her transition to be with the Lord. She was an active member of New Bethel Baptist Church in Portsmouth, Virginia as well as her community.
Graduating from Booker T. Washington High School at the age of 15, education has always been a focal point in Marlene’s life. She holds a B.S. in Elementary Education – Virginia State University; M.A. Early Childhood Education – Columbia University; Advanced Certificate in Administration – University of Virginia; Certificate in Administration and Supervision – Old Dominion University; and an earned Doctoral Degree in Educational Administration – Nova University. She retired as an educator/administrator having worked 38 years with distinction in the Portsmouth Public School System, along with being devoted to her family and community.
Marlene has served on numerous Boards and Commissions in the Hampton Roads area to include: Sigma Gamma Rho Sorority, Inc., HER Shelter, Portsmouth School Foundation, YMCA of South Hampton Roads Board, Effingham Street YMCA, Chamber of Commerce; Tidewater Chapter of American Red Cross (Diversity Task Force), School Board Oversight, Clean Community Commission, Sister City Commission; United Way – Residential Area, Central Civic Forum, Norfolk/Portsmouth Empowerment 2010 Board, S.T.O.P. Consultant; Election Precinct Officer, Urban League, Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast, Past National Treasurer of Jack and Jill of America, Inc., AAUW, Coalition of 100 Black Women, The Links, Inc., the National Drifters, Inc. (one of the three founding members for the Portsmouth Chapter), Delicados, Inc., Portsmouth Moles, Inc., Saturday Evening Bridge Club, Pinochle Bugs Inc., and a number of other social and civic groups. She was also appointed by former Governor Timothy Kaine to the Criminal Justice Services Board, in which her term expired June 2010.
Many honors, awards and citations have been bestowed upon Marlene. They include the NAACP Community Service Award, National Life and Virginia Life PTA, NAACP Life Member Award, Now Black Woman of National Drifters, Inc., Portsmouth Schools Humanitarian Award, YMCA Service to Youth Citation, Smart, Bold, Strong Woman Award – Girls, Inc., Order of the Red Triangle YMCA of South Hampton Roads, NCCJ (National Conference Community & Justice) Humanitarian Award, Trailblazer Award (Leadership in Politics Les Gemmes Inc.), Influential Americans (African American Historical Society), Distinguished Service Award (National Jack & Jill of America Inc.) and the recipient of an ‘Honorary Citizen” title from the City of New Orleans as National Treasurer of Jack & Jill, Inc. (to name a few). One of her proudest accomplishments was being honored in HistoryMakers which is the Nation’s Largest African American Oral History Video Collection archived in the National Library of Congress (https://www.thehistorymakers.org/biography/marlene-randall-41).
Having served in many endeavors, Marlene served as Treasurer of Church and Community in Action; Secretary Area II NAACP (Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake, and Suffolk), Vice Chair Norfolk/Portsmouth Empowerment 2010 Governance Board, Political Actions Chair NAACP (Portsmouth Chapter), “motivator” to everyone in the G.E.D. program at the Queen Street Center and served on the Portsmouth City Council (2002-2014). As a Councilwoman, she served on the Virginia Municipal League’s Educational Policy Committee and was historically named the first African-American female Vice Mayor during her tenure. One of her passions was serving as one of the active leaders of the renowned Umoja Festival, a premier African-American cultural celebration in Hampton Roads.
Marlene is predeceased by her loving husband of 62 years, Vernon L. Randall and her sister Jean W. Dickens. She is survived by a brother-in-law, Arthur S. Dickens; two special sisters, Brenda Smith and Cynthia Hines; a son, Ricardo C. Randall (Jacqueline); two daughters, Veronica R. Williams (Corey) and Michelle D. Bryant; a special niece, Danielle Smith Jones (Anthony); three grandchildren, Cordell L. Williams, Jamia C. Randall and Vernon L. Williams and many cousins, nieces, nephews, family and friends.