Virginia Legends Walk

June 5, 2019                                    CONTACT:   Sean Brickell, APR, Fellow PRSA


20th Anniversary of Virginia Legends Walk

VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - Commodore Mathew Fontaine Maury and Dr. Ralph Stanley are inducted into Virginia Legends Walk as the Class of 2019. Both received the highest percentage of votes and achieved the minimum requirement of being chosen on 50 percent of all returned judges' ballots. Both Legends were among the Top Five named nominees the previous year.

This is the 20th year since the founding of Virginia Legends Walk. Forty previous Virginians have been inducted.

KPMG is the independent firm that collects and tabulates all ballots.

"The Pathfinder of the Seas" was born in 1806 in Fredericksburg. Also known as the "Father of Modern Oceanography and Naval Meteorology," Maury's system of recording the oceanographic data of naval vessel and merchant marine ships was adopted worldwide when he published The Physical Geography of the Sea, "the first textbook of modern oceanography." His lifetime goal was to ensure that captains should have charts that would enable them to sail as quickly and as safely as possible around the world. His work made many important new contributions to charting winds and ocean currents, including ocean lanes for passing ships at sea.

Maury was a staunch opponent of slavery and worked to eliminate transportation of slaves to America by ship. He wrote: "Imagine waking up some day and finding our country free of slavery."

Maury was the first superintendent of the U.S. Naval Observatory, the first to propose a world conference for developing a universal system of weather observations and made the opening remarks when it occurred.

Maury is buried between Virginian Presidents James Monroe and John Tyler in Hollywood Cemetery in Richmond.

Born in 1927 in Stratton, Dr. Ralph Stanley led his group The Clinch Mountain Boys. He introduced his influential and his distinctive singing along with a unique technique of banjo playing, now known worldwide as "Stanley style," distinguished by incredibly fast "forward rolls" led by the index finger (instead of the thumb), sometimes in the higher registers using a capo. In "Stanley style," the rolls of the banjo are continuous, while being picked fairly close to the bridge on the banjo, giving the tone of the instrument a very crisp, articulate snap to the strings as the player would strike them.

Leading the first generation of bluegrass musicians, he was inducted into the International Bluegrass Music Hall of Honor and was the first person inducted into the Grand Ole Opry in the third millennium. Elected as a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Dr. Stanley won the 2002 Grammy Award for Best Male Country Vocal Performance for "Oh Death," featured in the hit movie
"O Brother, Where Art Thou?"

Stanley was awarded an honorary doctorate in music from Lincoln Memorial University of Harrogate, Tennessee in 1976.

In 2006, Stanley received The National Medal of Arts, an award and title created by the U.S. Congress in 1984 for the purpose of honoring artists and patrons of the arts. It is the highest honor given to artists and arts patrons by the U.S. government. Nominations are submitted to the National Council on the Arts, the advisory committee of the National Endowment for the Arts, who then submits its recommendations to the White House for the President of the United States to award.

The Top Ten runners-up in this year's election are in order: country music icons The Statler Brothers (45.3); rock superstar Dave Matthews; emancipation champion Dred Scott; Revolutionary War hero "Light Horse" Harry Lee; America's first successful business person John Rolf; first American female to charter a bank Maggie Walker; multi-faceted entertainment superstar Pharrell Williams; Academy Award winner actor George C. Scott; Civil War hero "Jeb" Stuart; and civil rights champion Nat Turner.

Virginia Beach officials estimate that millions of resort visitors and area residents have toured Virginia Legends Walk since its introduction. The Walk was created as a free, permanent living monument to honor great Virginians and is located one block from the Virginia Beach oceanfront at 13th Street.

Virginia Legends Walk has eight U.S. Presidents (from George Washington to Woodrow Wilson), five celebrated generals, ten internationally known musicians, and other key historical figures from the Commonwealth.

A complete list and bios of all 42 Virginians honored in Virginia Legends Walk can be found online at Nominations are being accepted for the 2020 candidates by completing the online application (also at or by calling 800.333.6397.

Virginia Legends Walk honors Virginians, by birth or residence, who have made significant contributions to the nation and the world.

Copyrighted, 2019. Produced and developed by
Brickell & Partners Public Relations and Media Access Group.