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Wiley inducted into CuCPS alumni hall of fame

Beulah Marshall Wiley was posthumously inducted into the Cumberland County Public Schools (CuCPS) Alumni Hall of Fame Thursday, August 5.

The Alumni Hall of Fame was established to honor former Cumberland County Public School graduates who have excelled or distinguished themselves through personal and/or professional success, and who have made significant contributions to society, including Cumberland County Public Schools. In order to be considered for this award, a nominee must be a graduate of CuCPS and meet the following criteria: made exceptional accomplishments or was recognized for leadership in chosen field, made significant contributions to society and/or Cumberland County Public Schools, demonstrated service in local, state, or national affairs and served as an outstanding role model for future students.

Wiley, a 1941 graduate of the Cumberland Training School, was a political activist who was instrumental in establishing Virginia’s first community health center. Her vision for the health center was spurred on by her personal efforts, when working with CPAC, to transport people to health care facilities, which often took up to two hours.

She rallied other citizens in her quest to provide affordable, high quality health care close to those who needed it. In her quest, she contacted educators and religious leaders throughout the area to assist in this project. She applied for and received a grant from the federal government to open a community health center. The health center helped to provide health care for all citizens, including the medically underserved. The CVCHC, located in Buckingham, offered medical, dental, behavioral health, X-rays, and pharmacy services to citizens in Buckingham, Cumberland, and Fluvanna counties. She then served as the first executive director of the newly created Central Virginia Community Health Center.

The trend started by Wiley grew. Currently there are many more sites located throughout Virginia to provide health care to those in rural and high poverty areas.

By 2012, the Buckingham facility provided services to approximately 8,000 patients annually. This was the year that a fitness center was added. The center offered fitness activities as well as health and nutrition training facilities. The center, dedicated on Aug. 11, was named the Beulah M. Wiley Fitness Center in her honor.

Wiley has been described by those who knew her as caring, dedicated, hard-working, and compassionate. Her sister described her as a talented, motivated, inspirational, persevering visionary.” A newspaper article noted the following, “Her leadership, energy, and commitment to health care for any resident who needed it laid the foundation for what would become Virginia’s largest community health center.”

At the dedication of the fitness center, her sister asked if the state had any other comparable institution founded by a black woman in the time that Wiley founded it. At the dedication, a ceramic bust of her, created by Ed Miller, a UVA sculptor, was unveiled. This statue was intended to make everyone aware of the enormity of her accomplishment.

Wiley’s name has been added to the Alumni Hall of Fame recognition board, which is housed in the CuCPS Central Office. Her brother, Harry Marshall, acknowledged the tribute on her behalf.