Citizen of the Month: Susie Archer

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citizenofthemonthCitizen of the Month: Susie Archer


Susie Archer doesn’t see herself as a remarkable person. She doesn’t see herself as someone with a tremendous positive impact on the Chesapeake community. Instead, she sees herself as a business owner and a person who gets involved when she can with things that she cares about. She pitches in and helps to carry the load when she feels passionate about a cause. A Deep Creek native, Archer never planned to be involved in half a dozen organizations that shape the daily landscape of Hampton Roads. It just turned out that way.

Step back in time about 15 years ago. Archer’s father, who founded Old Dominion Container Repair, Inc., had just passed away. She and her brother, Jimmy Old, had taken over the family business in response to her father’s surprising bequest.

“Initially, we were just trying to survive,” said Archer. “We were not civic minded. We were just trying to survive.”

Old Dominion Container Repair is one of three businesses in the container industry based in Chesapeake and has played a notable role in the development of the city from a rural community to one of the fastest growing cities in Virginia.

“It’s an industry; not a pretty one, but we’ve been in it 40 years,” said Archer. “As the years have passed, people have complained.”

An issue came up about 11 years ago. Archer and Old were determined to find a way through the controversy that would end in a win-win for the company and for the City. It was then that Archer began her relationship with the Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce (HRCC). Although her father had always been very civic-minded and prompted her to do the same, the experience with the City and the business opened her eyes. The company and industry came to what Archer describes as “a very reasonable resolve” with the City.

“The Chamber of Commerce stepped up and helped me,” said Archer. “They were there with me and went to meetings and basically held my hand. We were able to work through it all. They gave me confidence, expertise and friendships. I had to give back to the Chamber. I had to get involved.”

And she has. Today, as president of Old Dominion Container Repair, she stays involved with the business community while her brother runs the operations.

“It’s been quite a journey,” she said.

Archer is a past recipient of the Athena Award from the Chamber of Commerce, which is how the organization honors women in leadership roles. The title of the award has since changed to the Marian P. Whitehurst Award, named after the former mayor of Chesapeake.

In 2010, she became the chair of the Chesapeake Division of the Regional Hampton Roads Chamber of Commerce. She was placed on the regional board, where she served for two years.

“For years, the Chambers in all of the cities were separate, and we’re trying to regionalize it,” she said.

As a Regional HRCC board member, she is co-chair for the Sustainable Resource Campaign (SRC) with Joe Thomas, regional vice president for GEICO. The SRC raises money for the HRCC, sponsoring local events and helping small local businesses. It funds lobbyists for the business community and a support staff for the organization. Last year, the SRC surpassed its fundraising goal of $850,000 by about $50,000.

Archer also serves as a board member for several other organizations in Hampton Roads, with her main focus on Chesapeake. She is on the board of the Chesapeake Schools Foundation and for the Boys and Girls Club of Southeast Virginia. She is the first woman to serve on Chesapeake’s board for the Economic Development Authority. She is on the advisory board for Children’s Hospital of the Kings Daughters and volunteers once a week at the hospital.

She somehow finds the time to be active at Deep Creek United Methodist Church, serving on the board of trustees, as president of her circle in the United Methodist Women’s group, and as a member of the church choir and hand bell choir. A resident of Eagle Pointe, she is a poll worker and member of the Chesapeake Republican Committee. She helps to organize poll workers for six precincts in Deep Creek.

“All the boards I serve on, I serve on because I’m passionate about these things,” the humble 61-year-old explained.

Archer still finds time for her husband, Bucky, and enjoys visits with her two grown children and her grandchildren. In her spare time, she is a history buff and chess player who would rather read books than watch TV.

Archer was surprised to be named Citizen of the Month.

“I really don’t do anything special,” she said. “I’m just all about giving back. My father really taught me that.”

Congratulations Susie Archer on being named Citizen of the Month.  We appreciate your dedication to public service. The city of Chesapeake is incredibly fortunate to have you as a leader in our community.

The Citizen welcomes your recommendations for Citizen of the Month.  Help us recognize and honor outstanding community leaders who are making a difference in our city—and the world.  Email your nominations to:

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One Response to Citizen of the Month: Susie Archer

  1. Marie Ringler Reply

    April 15, 2013 at 12:43 pm

    Congratulations to Suzie. I know first hand what a huge contributor Suzie is to Chesapeake and about how much she loves her community. She is a poised, professional who thinks before she acts and does put in time to understand, and be a part of solutions. I served with Suzie on the Chesapeake Chamber Board and appreciate her leadership. Congratulations again, Suzie.

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