By Bob Yearick
On Sunday, Aug. 20, the New Castle County Chapter of the Delaware State Alumni Association will honor four community leaders at its 40th Scholarship Luncheon: Frank Burton Jr., Enid Wallace-Simms, Carol S. Wright, and Eugene Young Jr.
While all four are, as the announcement for the event states, “distinguished individuals who have contributed to the uplift of our local community while promoting the importance of education,” it’s safe to say that, among the four, only Burton has experienced a theophany.
Derived from the ancient Greek, theophany means “a personal encounter with a deity.”
Frank Burton Jr. is a 32-year veteran law enforcement officer who served 22 years with the FBI. So when he says — almost matter-of-factly — that he “had an encounter with God” on Aug. 22, 1997, on Pikes Peak, the assertion has to be given some credence.
Lending further weight to his story is the result of the encounter, which took place during his visit to the Colorado landmark with three fellow FBI agents. Based on what he perceived as God’s message that day, Burton started a ministry – Spiritual Men of Warfare Visionaries (SMWV). Meeting at his house in Bear, the group numbered just 13 in 1997, but it grew quickly. For several years, says Burton, “there were 100 people at my house the first Saturday of every month.”
Forming SMWV led Burton on a path of ministry. He became a licensed minister and an apostle, and he and his wife, Pastor Tasey Burton, launched Perfect Will Ministries in New Castle. The medium-sized, non-denominational church celebrates its 20th anniversary this year.
Burton has a degree in English from DSU, where he was a standout in football and baseball. He was elected to the DSU Hall of Fame for both sports in 2000. In June, he received a Master of Science degree in Administration of Justice from Wilmington University.
Burton retired from the FBI at the end of 2013, and then became even busier: in 2015, he published a book, From FBI Agent to An Apostle; in 2018, he formed Burton Executive Security Training (B.E.S.T.), which specializes in church security and executive protection training; he has held several positions at WilmU for the past nine years; and last year, he was recruited to be the chaplain for the University of Delaware football team. And, of course, he and his wife continue to minister to their congregation at Perfect Will Ministries.
Of the Aug. 20 honor, Burton says, “This event is important to me because it promotes scholarship, academic excellence, leadership, unity, and something near to my heart — community service. It makes me feel honored to know that DSU recognizes those same elements in me.”
Enid Wallace-Simms likes to joke that, following retirement from Delmarva Power in 2021 after 41 years, she now has two full-time jobs “with no pay”: chair of the Delaware State University Foundation Board and chair of the Delaware YMCA Board of Directors.
Born in Wilmington’s Hilltop neighborhood, Wallace-Simms has spent much of her career in service to her community and to her alma mater, DSU.
As Delmarva Power’s manager of Customer and Community Relations and then senior Public Affairs manager for Government and External Affairs, she worked with community and civic organizations to identify opportunities for the enormous resources Delmarva Power offered, including its pool of volunteers, its financial aid, and its support of various boards, educational systems, and community groups.
A 1974 graduate of DSU with a B.A. in distributive education, Wallace-Simms has worked tirelessly for the school. She established a roundtable luncheon series with JP Morgan Chase, DuPont, Astra Zeneca, and Delmarva Power, along with DSU’s president and its Advancement Executive Team that resulted in major grants and sponsorships for the university.
A 2003 recipient of the YMCA’s Black Achiever in Business and Industry Award, Wallace-Simms is a member of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights for the State of Delaware, and also serves on the Governor’s Commission on Community and Volunteer Service.
Looking forward to the Scholarship Luncheon, she says, “It’s wonderful to be honored by an organization that I have been dedicated to for so many years.”
Carol S. Wright touched the lives of more than three generations of children while teaching every age group from elementary schools to the college level, the latter at Wilmington University and the University of Delaware.
Her 50-year career as a Delaware educator earned her many accolades. She was named Red Clay School District Teacher of the Year for 1994-95, and she received the Delaware State Education Human and Civil Rights Award in 2009. The Wilmington Chapter of the National Association for University Women named her Woman of the Year for 2001, and in 2016 she was Phi Delta Kappa’s Educator of the Year. The United Methodist Church Laity honored her for her work with the youth at Wilmington’s Ezion-Mount Carmel United Methodist Church.
Wright also was a member of the Division of Historical and Cultural Affairs’ 2006 Exhibit, “Remember Me — Stories about Delaware’s African Americans, 1700s-1880s.”
In retirement, she continues to be active in many professional and community-based organizations, including Phi Delta Kappa, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, the National Association of University Women, Delta Kappa Gamma International Honor Society for Women Educators, and the National Alliance of Black School Educators and Connecting Generations.
Wright earned both a bachelor’s degree in elementary education and a master’s in curriculum and instruction from Delaware State. She also holds a certification in school administration from Wilmington University.
Ever since graduating from DSU in 1969, she has been a dedicated supporter of the university’s alumni and fundraising programs and activities. She has held many positions with the New Castle County Alumni Chapter, including chairing the 2022 Scholarship Committee.
“I am thrilled, overwhelmed, and beyond grateful for this honor,” Wright says. “This organization has brought so much value and worth to my life, and I cannot do enough to express the gratitude that I feel.”
Appointed by Gov. John Carney, Eugene Young Jr. has been the director of the Delaware State Housing Authority since May of 2021. In cooperation with other state agencies and advocates, Young drives DSHA’s mission to assist others in providing quality, affordable housing opportunities and appropriate supportive services to low- and moderate-income Delawareans.
Before his appointment, Young was president and CEO of the Metropolitan Wilmington Urban League and co-founded Network Delaware, a grassroots organization of community members, leaders, organizers, and activists seeking to bring sustainable change to Delaware.
Born and raised on Wilmington’s Eastside, Young graduated from the University of Maryland Baltimore County with a dual major in information systems and sociology. He received a master’s in public administration from Wilmington University and studied nonprofit management at the University of Delaware.
Young began his service to the community 16 years ago when he co-founded Delaware Elite, a youth leadership development program that provided inner-city youth with academic enrichment, leadership training, and college access. He has experience working in the non-profit sector, as well as for the city, state, and federal government. He served as an aide within the Delaware General Assembly and then as an aide to Newark, N. J., Mayor and current U. S. Sen. Cory Booker.
Although he is not a DSU alumnus, Young notes, “My Mother is a Hornet, my cousins are Hornets, some of my closest friends are Hornets. I am overwhelmed with gratitude to be recognized alongside my fellow honorees. DSU is a powerhouse institution of higher learning with a focus on equity, excellence, and evolution. Knowing they see those same values in me is truly a fantastic feeling. Moving forward, I will continue my efforts to uplift and advance my community and look forward to bringing about positive change for many more years to come.”
Kameryn Ward-Stokes, a 2023 DSU graduate, also will speak at the luncheon. He was awarded a full scholarship from the New Castle County Alumni Chapter four years ago and is now interning with the Philadelphia 76ers through the NBA x HBCU Fellowship Program.
— The New Castle County DSU AA 40th Scholarship Luncheon is set for Sunday, Aug. 20, at the Chase Center on the Riverfront, Wilmington. Doors open at 1:30 p.m. and the program begins at 2 p.m. Tickets are $85 each, $600 for a table. To order, visit: NCCDSUAA.eventbrite.com. Questions? Email DSUAAnewcastlecounty@gmail.com.