By Matt de Simone
The Virginia House of Delegates approved the Norvel LaFollette Ray Lee Memorial Highway by a 99-0 vote last week.
Last year, the Botetourt County Board of Supervisors passed two resolutions. One requested the placement of a Virginia Department of Historical Resources (VDHR) marker for Norvel LaFollette Ray Lee near the Route 220/Route 622 intersection in the Gala area. The other one in September requested that Delegate Terry Austin introduce a bill naming the highway after Lee.
Former Roanoke Mayor Nelson Harris submitted the application for the historical marker to VDHR. It was approved by VDHR on December 9. VDOT and the county are coordinating placement of the marker. No date has been set for a dedication.
Norvel Lee was a Botetourt County native, an Olympic boxer who won a gold medal during the 1952 Olympics, a World War II veteran, and a civil rights leader.
A 2016 article about Lee in The Fincastle Herald sparked local author Ken Conklin’s interest that resulted in writing and publishing NORVEL, a book about Lee’s life.
Austin is the patron of the bill (BH1363) that was referred to the Virginia Committee on Transportation last month. The bill was introduced in the House on February 7 and passed on February 9.