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Patricia W. & J. Douglas Perry Library
Norfolk, Virginia 23529-0256
telephone (757) 683-5350
fax (757) 683-5954


The Papers of William Frederick Duckworth

Scope and Contents - Series Descriptions - Access - Contents Listing


William Fred Duckworth was born June 20, 1899 in Brevard, North Carolina. He graduated from Kernersville High School in Kernersville, North Carolina, and attended Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina. He served in the Infantry during World War I. Duckworth married Gertrude Summers, a native of Statesville, North Carolina. Together they had one daughter, Betty.

Mr. Duckworth's first employment was with the Ford Motor Company Assembly Plant in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1920. In 1931, he was promoted to manager of the plant. Then in 1933, he transferred to the Memphis Tennessee Plant. In 1936, Duckworth moved to Norfolk, Virginia to manage the Norfolk Plant. He worked for the Ford Motor Company until 1942.

Mr. Duckworth served his country again from 1942 to 1944, as Regional Director of the War Production Board in Cleveland, Ohio. After this he became an independent businessman, founding the Cavalier Motor Company in Norfolk, Virginia. He served as President of the company until 1959. After that, he continued to serve as Chairman of the Board.

In 1950, running on the coalition ticket, Duckworth was elected as mayor of Norfolk. He served in this position for twelve years, as Norfolk's longest running mayor. He finally declined reelection in 1962. During his terms in office, he was instrumental in converting the "old seaport city" with its slums, crime, run down buildings, and poorly designed streets into the respectable town that received the "All American City" award in 1960. He was considered stubborn and brusque, but he got things done. For better or worse, he often overstepped the political bureaucracy of the city. Among his accomplishments were slum clearance, an industrial park, the Norfolk bridges and tunnels, and the General Douglas MacArthur Memorial in Norfolk's old Court House.

On March 4, 1972, William Fred Duckworth was killed in a barrage of gunfire while taking his regular nightly walk near his Norfolk apartment. Duckworth was shot as many as twelve times from ground level. He was found by a passing motorist, and there were no witnesses. His cane was broken, which indicated to police that there might have been a fight. Robbery was ruled out, as nothing was stolen. No one was ever charged with the crime. Years later the identity of his killer remains a mystery.

Scope and Contents

The W. Fred Duckworth Papers consists of documents, artifacts, newspaper clippings, photos, and scrapbooks documenting his activities in politics, as a businessman, and as a civic leader. Material dates from the 1940s through the 1970s.

Series Descriptions

The collection is broken down into the following series: I: Papers; II: Memorabilia; III: Oversize Photographs and certificates; and IV: Oversize Albums and Scrapbooks.

Series I: Papers. This series is divided into four sub-series. Sub-series A: W. Fred Duckworth; Sub-series B: General Douglas MacArthur; and Sub-series C: Governor Thomas B. Stanley.

Sub-series A: W. Fred Duckworth. This sub-series contains biographical and historical information on William Fred Duckworth. Included are newspaper clippings, correspondence, programs, and unframed certificates. A bulk of the materials relates to Mr. Duckworth's untimely death in 1972. Of particular note is the transcript of the 1962 WTAR presentation "The Duckworth Years" highlighting Mr. Duckworth's career as Mayor of Norfolk. Materials date from the 1950's, 1960's, and 1970's.

Sub-series B: General Douglas MacArthur. This sub-series is devoted to General Douglas MacArthur's death and funeral in 1964.

Sub-series C: Governor Thomas B. Stanley. This sub-series contains information on Virginia Governor Thomas B. Stanley. Included are a program for a dinner in honor of Governor Stanley and information on Virginia's 350th Anniversary Tour of Europe. This tour was a prelude to the observance of the anniversary of the first permanent English settlement in Jamestown. Material dates from September to November 1956.

Series II: Memorabilia. This series contains a variety of memorabilia from Mr. Duckworth's life. Included are items that relate to his career as Norfolk Mayor and items that reflect his various civic involvements.

Series III: Oversize Photographs and Certificates. This sub-series contains photographs and certificates of importance to Fred Duckworth. Most of these are framed. Many of the photographs are of Mr. Duckworth. There are also photos of General Douglas MacArthur, as well as other military, political, and civic leaders. There are a few photos related to Mr. Duckworth's career with Ford. Certificates from various organizations and councils recognize work and accomplishments. A 1957 framed certificate from President Dwight Eisenhower appoints Mr. Duckworth a member of the Water Pollution Control Advisory Board in the Public Health Service.

Series IV: Oversize Albums, and Scrapbooks. This sub-series contains albums, scrapbooks, and books related to Mr. Duckworth's activities. Many contain material from his time working for Ford. Other material relates to his terms as Mayor of Norfolk.


Gift of Betty Duckworth Farrand, May 12, 1980.


Open to researchers without restrictions. Questions on literary property rights should be directed to the Special Collections Librarian.


2 Hollinger Document Cases, 1 Hollinger Box, and 13 Oversize Boxes.

Contents Listing


Series I: Papers

Subseries A: W. Frederick Duckworth

Box 1

Folder 1: Biographical Information
Folder 2: Certificate of Honorary Mention in People-to-People
Folder 3: Honorary Alumni- Chesapeake College
Folder 4: Honorary Diploma- Douglas MacArthur Academy
Folder 5: Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree Speech, Howard Payne College, October 18, 1969
Folder 6: WTAR Presentation on “The Duckworth Years,” August 23, 1962
Folder 7: Account of 1959 European Tour, Iula Convention in Berlin, Germany
Folder 8: Prayer and Hymn for Fred Duckworth Funeral Services, First Presbyterian Church, Ahoskie, North Carolina
Folder 9: Sympathy Cards and Letters Regarding Fred Duckworth’s Death, March 1972
Folder 10: Duckworth Memorial Contributions, Letters
Folder 11: Memorial Resolutions- MacArthur Memorial Foundation, Board of Directors, March 16, 1972
Folder 12: Memorial Resolutions- Tidewater Virginia Development Council, April 13, 1972
Folder 13: Memorial Resolutions- Virginia Bunkers Association, June 1972
Folder 14: Memorial Resolutions- Virginia National Bank, July 14, 1972
Folder 15: Duckworth Plaque- University, April 12, 1973
Folder 16: Duckworth Plaque- Inscription, April 13, 1973
Folder 17: Clippings, Political 1960’s Pt. I
Folder 18: Clippings, Political 1960’s Pt. II
Folder 19: Clippings, W. Fred Duckworth
Folder 20: Clippings, MacArthur Memorial’s W. Fred Duckworth Slain, March 4, 1972
Folder 21: Clippings, Duckworth Slaying, March 1972
Folder 22: Clippings, “Duckworth Slaying Still a Mystery,” Virginia Pilot, January 2, 1979


Box 2

Folder 1: U.S.S. Norfolk Commissions, March 4, 1953
Folder 2: Photo, Fred Duckworth & W.E. Norman, Opening, March 7, 1951
Folder 3: Legal Documents and Memorandum of Association, Standard Marine Insurance Company, Limited
Folder 4: Black & White Photos- Duckworth NHRA Demolition Ceremony, 1951
Folder 5: Color Photo/Portrait of Duckworth & Joseph Healy (1960’s-1970’s?)
Folder 6: Black & White Photos / Portraits of Fred Duckworth, undated
Folder 7: 28 Black & White Photos of the First Visit of the U.S.S. Norfolk to Norfolk, VA , March 1954
Folder 8: Ancient & Accepted Scottish Rite, Southern Jurisdiction, USA, Supreme Council, 33*, October 1971 Session

Subseries B: General Douglas MacArthur

Folder 9: General Douglas MacArthur: Last Journey for an Old Soldier
Folder 10: Clippings, Douglas MacArthur Death, April 5, 1964 Pt. I
Folder 11: Clippings, Douglas MacArthur Death, April 5, 1964 Pt. II
Folder 12: Clippings, Douglas MacArthur Death, April 5, 1964 Pt. III
Folder 13: General Douglas MacArthur Funeral Service, April 11, 1964
Folder 14: General Douglas MacArthur Memorial

Subseries C: Governor Thomas B. Stanley

Folder 15: Inscribed Program in Honor of Governor Thomas B. Stanley, October 27, 1956
Folder 16: Booklet on the Virginia 350th Anniversary Tour of Europe, Sept. 29-Nov. 5, 1956
Folder 17: Itineraries of the Virginia Commonwealth Visit to Europe, Sept. 29- Nov. 5, 1956
Folder 18: Lists of Members of the Party, Virginia Commonwealth Visit to Europe, Sept. 29-Nov. 5, 1956

Series II: Memorabilia

Folder 19:  Three Webster School Notebooks
Folder 20: The Elementary Spelling Book, 1908

Box 3

1. Academic Hood
2. Hat (Mason’s/Shriner’s?)
3. Three Wooden Gavels
4. Plaque from U.S. Naval Academy Midshipmen, Class of 1961
5. City of Norfolk, Sept. 1950- Aug. 1962 Memorial, Wood
6. “Mr. Duckworth, President of the Council”, Wooden Name Plate
7. “W.F. Duckworth,” Wooden Name Plate with Metal
8. Brass Ship with Chain
9. Wooden Gavel Base
10. Yellow Pine, Key to the City of Bogalusa, Louisiana
11. Shriner’s Oasis Fez Hat & Case
12. Rotary International Pin

Box 4

1. Chesapeake Bay Bridge Tunnel, Tile, Opening, 1964
2. Mace Clamp
3. Dare County & Cape Hatteras Lighthouse Centennial Medallion
4. Key from Bethlehem
5. Pen & Knife Box
6. Square Containing Barbed Wire from Iron Curtain, Presented by the Radio Free Europe Fund
7. Mason Medallion, Fredrick the Great (2)
8. ROJ Pendant
9. SEMCO Clock & Case
10. Assorted Campaign Buttons (Including: Goldwater & Byrd Pins (2), Goldwater 1964 Pins (2), Broyhill for Congress, IKE Gold Pin, Gold Elephant with Glasses Pin, Robertson for Senate Pin, Byrd for Senator Pin, White & Red Elephant Pin)
11. Eastern Gas & Fuel Associates File Clip
12. Virginia Dare Medallion
13. Wilmington N.C. Key- “Azalea Capital of the World” C. 1959
14. Pedometer
15. Cosmopolitan Club, Distinguished Service Medal
16. Deputy Sheriff’s Badge, Mecklenburg County, North Carolina
17. Hammer with Spherical Head
18. National Seal

Series III: Oversize Photographs & Certificates

Box 5

1. Color print of jungle warfare and signature of Douglas MacArthur.
2. Manila-folder containing inscribed black and white photograph of Douglas MacArthur landing in the Philippines in 1944.
3. Envelope containing 24 color photographs, of dedication of MacArthur Memorial.
4. "Photographs" album of photographs and news clippings, 1946 District Dealer Meetings, Southeastern Region
5. "National ford Dealers Council," Dearborn, Michigan, October 7,8, and 9, 1946, album of W.F Duckworth: photographs
6. Red photograph album containing black and white photographs taken during trip to Europe in 1961.
7. Blue photograph album with note from Bob Havins of Howard Payne college, October 18th , 1969.
8. Doctor of Laws certificate presented to W. Fred Duckworth by Howard Payne College, October 18, 1969.
9. Scrapbook containing photographs of W.F. Duckworth visiting the Schultheiss Brewery, Berlin-Spandau, on June 22, 1959, with letter of invitation, June 17 1959, also enclosed is an invitation to a reception on June 20, 1959, from the American Municipal Association.]

Box 6

1. Framed, Certificate Granting Status of “Honorary Alumnus of the Armed Forces Staff College” to Hon. W. Fred Duckworth (#31)
2. Framed, Black & White Photograph of Mayor Duckworth and others at the International Fleet Review, with Inscription, June 12, 1957 (#12)
3. Framed, Citation Presented to Hon. W. Fred Duckworth by the Military Order of the World Wars in Recognition of his Part in Establishing the MacArthur Memorial, October 9, 1964 (#27)
4. Framed, Color Photograph of the U.S.S. Norfolk with Inscription by the Captain (#9)

Box 7

1. Framed, Black & White Photograph of the Launching of the U.S.S. Norfolk
2. Framed, Black & White Photograph of Fred Duckworth at the Launching of the U.S.S. Norfolk (#6)
3. Framed, Black & White Photograph of Councilman Lawrence Page, Inscription (#10)
4. Framed, Color Photograph of Queen Elizabeth II, with Blue Ribbon Enclosed (#2)
5. Framed, Color Photograph of Admiral Thomas Moorer with Inscription to Fred Duckworth (#3)
6. Framed, Resolution of Norfolk Rotary Club in Memory of W. Fred Duckworth, March 7, 1972 (#30)
7. Framed, Citation Presented to Hon. William Fredrick Duckworth with the 1956 Distinguished Service Medal Awarded by the Cosmopolitan Club of Norfolk (#26-A)
8. Framed, Color Photograph of Admiral Page Smith, Inscription
9. Framed, Color Photograph of Admiral Robert Dennison, Inscription

Box 8

1. Photographs of Fred Duckworth and color photograph of Mrs. Duckworth (#15)
2. Folder from James T. White & Company containing black and white photographs of Fred Duckworth for the National Cyclopedia of American Biography (#17)
3. Black and white photograph of naval officer and six women re: Scholarship Award with accompanying note from John Funk.
4. Black & White photograph of 130 Ford Salesmen who won the trip to World's Fair in Chicago
5. Photograph holder with photograph of Norfolk City Council, 1950: E.V. Griffin, George L. Abbott, F. Duckworth, Lawrence Page, and N.B. Etheridge.

Box 9

1. Framed, Certificate of Appreciation to William Fredrick Duckworth from Eight Civic Organizations, September 6, 1972
2. Framed, Certificate from President Eisenhower to William Fredrick Duckworth, Appointing him a Member of the Water Pollution Control Advisory Board in the Public Health Service, September 26, 1957 [this is loose, on the shelf]
3. Framed, Resolution Honoring W. Fred Duckworth on his Death by the State Highway Commission, March 16, 1972


Box 10

1. House Joint resolution No. 162 of the Virginia General Assembly Honoring Fred Duckworth after his Death, March7, 1972
2. Posthumous Special Service Award from the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce, May 10, 1972
3. Mason Certificate as Knight Commander
4. Mason Certificate as Master of the Royal Secret
5. Mason Certificate as Inspector General

Series IV: Oversize Albums & Scrapbooks

Box 11

1. “Ford-O-Graphs” Album of W.F. Duckworth, 1951 Activities: Photographs & News Clippings
2. “Ford Close-ups” Album of W.F. Duckworth, Photographs of Henry Ford
3.”Strictly Personal” Album of W.F. Duckworth, 1950 Activities: Flier, Program, & News Clippings
4. Book: A New Era Opens: Chesapeake Bay Bridge-Tunnel, April 15, 1964, with News Clippings, Programs, and Inserts

Box 12

1. White Album Containing Resolutions Passed in Honor of W. Fred Duckworth Following his Death in 1972
2. White Scrapbook of W. Fred Duckworth, March3, 1972: News Clippings
3. Brown scrapbook Containing Entries from 1956 & 1957

Box 13

1. Binder of Materials from the Douglas MacArthur Academy of Freedom of Howard Payne College, Including Papers, and 13 Black & White Photographs

Box 14

1. College of William and Mary Scrapbook to W. Fred Duckworth, 1964
2. W. Fred Duckworth: Ford Motor Company scrapbook [ 1924-1963]

Box 15

1. Wooden Scrapbook [1958-1963]

Box 16

1. Green Scrapbook [1951-1957]

Box 17

1.  Framed, City Council Resolution in Honor of Mayor Duckworth in Leaving the City Council, August 1962 (#24)

Oversize (unboxed)

1. Framed, Certificate from President Eisenhower to William Fredrick Duckworth, Appointing him a Member of the Water Pollution Control Advisory Board in the Public Health Service, September 26, 1957

Revised 4/28/2010