Roanoke College

Former Salem mayor Sonny Tarpley honored with Brown Award

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  • Former Salem mayor Sonny Tarpley honored with Brown Award

  • 10/01/10
  • SALEM, Va. - Roanoke College's fourteenth Charles Brown Award was bestowed upon Mr. Carl E. "Sonny" Tarpley, Jr. during a ceremony on the Salem campus October 5. The award recognizes annually a citizen of Salem who has contributed significantly to the quality of life in the city.  Recipients have made distinguished contributions in their professional lives, but more importantly, they have gone beyond their professional settings to make Salem a better place to live. 

    Tarpley, a Salem native, was the longest-serving member of city council when he retired as mayor in 2006. Elected to council in 1974, he was instrumental in the establishment of the city's school system. Tarpley is a charter board member of the Salem Educational Foundation and Alumni Association, which provides scholarships to Salem students, including a $1,000 scholarship for a Salem High School senior who plans to attend Roanoke College.

    Important changes that took place during Tarpley's 30-plus years on city council include a professional police force and fire department, upgrades to electrical systems, a new high school, upgrades to all school buildings, a new jail and a new courthouse.

    Tarpley also was instrumental in improving water quality in Salem by adding a water filtration plant and the water tower on Elizabeth Campus. One of Tarpley's dreams, that the city would have a swimming pool, was realized with the completion of the YMCA on Elizabeth Campus.

    Tarpley began a banking career in 1978 and was one of the four original executives of Salem Bank and Trust, which was started with $1 million in capital. Alongside his colleagues, Tarpley built the bank to $250 million in assets at the time of its merger with FNB Corporation in 2001. Mr. Tarpley assisted many Salem residents by "taking chances" in allowing them first loans for cars, homes or businesses, and Tarpley served as president of the bank at his retirement in 2005. He then continued as a member of the FNB Salem Bank & Trust's Board of Directors.

    A longtime supporter of Roanoke College, Tarpley assisted with fund raising for the Fintel Library. He also was instrumental in supporting the college's entrance at Peery Drive.

    Tarpley and his wife Joyce, a retired school teacher, have been married for 50 years. They have two daughters and five grandchildren. One daughter and one son-in-law are Roanoke College graduates.

    The exemplar for this award is Dr. Charles Brown, the first true dean of Roanoke College and the only College employee to serve the city as mayor.  Dr. Brown was an outstanding leader of the College, and he distinguished himself as an educator and public servant. 

    Roanoke College, a classic liberal arts college in Salem, Virginia, combines firsthand learning with valuable personal connections in a beautiful undergraduate setting. Roanoke is one of just 280 colleges nationwide with a chapter of Phi Beta Kappa, the nation's oldest and most prestigious honor society. The Princeton Review names Roanoke as one of the "best in the Southeast" and U.S. News & World Report includes Roanoke on its "Up-and-coming National Liberal Arts Colleges" list.

  • Public Relations
  • (540) 375-2282
  • gereaux@roanoke.edu