‘Remarkable Women’ finalist Wanda Morrison is Kenbridge’s first female and first Black mayor

After three decades of two high-powered careers, Morrison says she could not retire. She picked up two more jobs as a school secretary and town mayor.

KENBRIDGE, Va. (WRIC) — There are no days off for Wanda Morrison.

“Too many things that I could get involved with in the community,” Morrison said.

Her community is her life in the small town of Kenbridge, Virginia located about 12 miles from Blackstone and Fort Pickett. Growing up there, Morrison was always an overachiever from her days at Central High School. She participated in cheerleading, varsity basketball, softball and color guard and also played trumpet in the marching band. She even graduated early at 16 years old after taking an English class over the summer.

“Went to VCU, I went to Strayer, I have my master’s in business administration and management,” Morrison said with a big smile as she talked to her friends and colleagues in town manager Tony Matthews’ office.

Kenbridge Mayor Wanda Morrison sitting in Town Manager Tony Matthew’s office with community advocate Patricia Harper-Tunley. Credit: 8News.

Morrison joined the U.S. Army Reserves in 1979 after an ex-boyfriend dared her, saying she wouldn’t make it. Challenge accepted – Wanda ultimately served 38 years in the reserves.

“When I became a sergeant major in the army reserves, there was about 8% of the entire army reserve who were female sergeant majors,” Morrison said.

Her military career took her to all 50 states helping soldiers transition from the battlefield to the home front. Morrison met her Iraq war veteran husband Ray Morrison — originally from West Virginia — at Fort Lee, and they have two children.

While in the military, Morrison also worked at SunTrust bank in Richmond, which is now Truist, for 35 years. She worked from the mailroom to boardroom, rising to the ranks of group vice president.

The Morrison family pictured, Wanda and Ray Morrison and their children. Credit: 8News.

“Everything I have done, it has been with people,” Morrison said. “It has been helping somebody. Like in the bank, it was customer service, and in the military, I was always with my soldiers.”

Even after two high-powered careers in banking and in the military took her all across the country, Morrison said she couldn’t simply retire.

“I wanted to stay at home and sit on my porch, but that did not work,” Morrison said. “I started working for Lunenburg County Public Schools.”

Fresh out of retirement, Morrison moved back home to Lunenburg County and is currently the school secretary for Kenbridge Elementary. She doesn’t just help the youth there.

Wanda Morrison and Kenbridge Elementary School staff, including Principal Tammy Wallace Matthews, in their Black “Lunenburg Strong” T-shirts. Credit: 8News.

“Not just in the school system, but in my church, I work with the students and the kids as well,” Morrison said, who has also been a longtime and active member of Mt. Bethel Baptist Church.

Then Morrison made headlines in her biggest role yet, serving nearly 1,200 people and becoming the first female and first African-American mayor of the town of Kenbridge.

“Really, it’s because of her heart, and the things that she does, and does not broadcast it,” Patricia Harper-Tunley, the 5th Congressional District Democratic Committee Chairwoman, said.

Harper-Tunley nominated Morrison as a “Remarkable Women” contestant based on Morrison’s lifelong service.

“If she wants to do it, she wants to make sure that everybody is okay, and she doesn’t require any type of accolades,” Harper-Tunley said. Harper-Tunley is also a Kenbridge native who recently moved back home after decades in Northern Virginia.

Upon learning that she became a finalist for the “Remarkable Women” contest, Morrison was speechless.

“I cried. I did because again, I don’t see myself as remarkable in the sense of the word,” Morrison said. “I see myself as doing what I am supposed to do based on God’s word to help other people.”

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