Get Connected
  • facebook
  • twitter
  • Sign In
  • Classifieds
  • Sections

West Virginians of the Year

By Staff reports

Read about this year's winner, Landau Eugene Murphy Jr., here.

Sunday Gazette-Mail West Virginians of the Year:

1951 - OKEY L. PATTESON, 23rd governor, chief creator of the West Virginia Turnpike.

1952 - WALTER S. HALLANAN, former Huntington Herald-Dispatch editor, state official, oilman, chairman of 1952 Republican National Convention.

1953 - ADM. FELIX B. STUMP, from Parkersburg, commander of the U.S. Navy's Pacific Fleet.

1954 - GEN. CHARLES E. YEAGER, from Lincoln County, World War II air hero and test pilot, first to break the sound barrier.

1955 - LEONARD RIGGLEMAN, longtime president of Morris Harvey College (now the University of Charleston), moved the school from Barboursville.

1956 - JOHN D. HOBLITZELL JR., of Parkersburg, education leader, appointed U.S. senator.

1957 - MICHAEL L. BENEDUM, "the Great Wildcatter," Bridgeport native, oil millionaire, philanthropist.

1958 - WILLIAM J. THOMPSON, Kanawha circuit judge, advocate of probation.

1959 - JERRY WEST, SAM HUFF, West Virginia basketball and football heroes.

1960 - FRED OTTO, Kanawha Valley civic leader, manager who helped save the DuPont Belle plant from phase-out.

1961 - CHARLES HODEL, orphan who lost a leg, became dynamic publisher of Beckley newspapers.

1962 - PEARL BUCK, Nobel Prize-winning author, born in Pocahontas County.

1963 - CYRUS VANCE, veteran U.S. diplomat and secretary of state.

1964 - SEN. JENNINGS RANDOLPH, member of Congress since the 1930s, chief author of Appalachian Regional Commission.

1965 - THE REV. LEON SULLIVAN, Charleston-born civil rights leader, created job training for blacks, planned phase-out of apartheid in South Africa.

1966 - WALTER F. REUTHER, United Auto Workers union president, born in Wheeling.

1967 - REV. HILARION CANN, BISHOP FRED HOLLOWAY, RABBI SAMUEL COOPER and BISHOP WILBURN CAMPBELL, four state leaders in church efforts for civil rights.

1968 - PHYLLIS CURTIN, from Clarksburg, GEORGE CRUMB JR. from Charleston, opera soprano and composer.

1969 - DR. DANIEL HALE, Princeton physician and conservationist, created flood-control dam and safe water supply.

1970 - WILLIAM T. BROTHERTON JR., of Charleston, state Senate president, creator of the Legislature's corruption-probing commission.

1971 - DR. JOHN C. NORMAN, Charleston-born surgeon and medical researcher.

1972 - ARCH A. MOORE JR., 28th governor, dynamic in his first term.

1973 - ARNOLD MILLER, Cabin Creek disabled miner, elected president of the UMW after crusading against union corruption.

1974 - SEN. ROBERT C. BYRD, who rose from Raleigh County poverty to leadership in Congress.

1975 - DR. JAMES HARLOW, physicist, 16th president of West Virginia University.

1976 - JAMES DAVID BARBER, Charleston native, Duke University political scientist, author of books on presidency.

1977 - SEN. ROBERT C. BYRD, chosen again after he attained national power as Senate majority leader.

1978 - MARY LEE SETTLE, from Charleston, renowned novelist.

1979 - MAURICE G. BROOKS, WVU biologist, author of four books on mountain wildlife.

1980 - CHARLES PETERS JR., from Charleston, former legislator, publisher of The Washington Monthly.

1981 - SHARON ROCKEFELLER, public broadcasting advocate, wife of Sen. Jay Rockefeller.

1982 - ARTHUR RECHT, Wheeling circuit judge who mandated equality between rich and poor county school systems.

1983 - JAMES "BUCK" HARLESS, Mingo County lumber and coal mogul, philanthropist.

1984 - MARY LOU RETTON, from Fairmont, Olympic gold medalist in gymnastics.

1985 - LOUISE McNEIL PEASE, from Pocahontas County, state poet laureate.

1986 - DALE NITZSCHKE, president of Marshall University, leader in innovative educational concepts.

1987 - ROBERTA EMERSON, curator who expanded Huntington Museum of Art.

1988 - DON NEHLEN, football coach who led WVU to an 11-0 season.

1989 - MICHAEL CAREY, U.S. attorney who cleaned up corruption in Mingo County and state government.

1990 - SEN. ROBERT C. BYRD, chosen a third time for bringing billions of dollars worth of federal projects to West Virginia.

1991 - SEN. JAY ROCKEFELLER, legislator, secretary of state, governor and U.S. senator.

1992 - LYELL CLAY, HAZEL RUBY McQUAIN, CHARLIE ERICKSON, JOAN EDWARDS and other philanthopists - "The Givers" who support West Virginia projects.

1993 - The entire WVU FOOTBALL TEAM, for another undefeated season.

1994 - HENRY LOUIS "SKIP" GATES, Mineral County native who became Harvard's top black scholar, won a MacArthur "genius award" and wrote a book about his boyhood in West Virginia.

1995 - ROBERT C. FRASURE, from Morgantown, a deputy assistant secretary of state who was killed while trying to negotiate peace in Bosnia's civil war.

1996 - GASTON CAPERTON, upon completing two terms as a successful, progressive governor, whose tenure brought economic growth and few scandals.

1997 - ELIZABETH HALLANAN, one of America's few female federal judges, who reformed child support and voided a state plan for government-sponsored religion in schools.

1998 - ADM. JOSEPH LOPEZ, a Fayette County native who rose through the ranks to command U.S. forces in Bosnia and the Mediterranean.

1999 - BOB PRUETT, Marshall University football coach who selflessly turned down big-money offers - and his CHAMPIONSHIP TEAM.

2000 - JOHN CHAMBERS JR., president of the Internet giant, Cisco Systems, which enables computers to communicate, thus spurring the Information Age.

2001 - The WEST VIRGINIA NATIONAL GUARD, for a year of duty against floods, forest fires and terrorism.

2002 - SEN. ROBERT C. BYRD, a courageous lone voice resisting the plunge to war in Iraq.

2003 - PFC. JESSICA LYNCH of Wirt County, who became America's hero after she was severely injured, captured and then rescued in Iraq fighting.

2004 - CHARLIE JONES, longtime West Virginia barge and coal operator, providing jobs through one of the state's few home-based corporations.

2005 - WEST VIRGINIA SOLDIERS serving, fighting and dying in Iraq and Afghanistan, and their burdened families at home.

2006 - DAVID HARDESTY for his long years of fine leadership at West Virginia University.

2007 - JENNIFER GARNER for her success as a movie and Broadway actress, along with humanitarian works and public devotion to her home state.

2008 - BETTY SCHOENBAUM, Charleston philanthropist, for her many gifts enhancing life in the state capital.

2009 - JIM JUSTICE, Greenbrier County philanthropist who saved The Greenbrier resort and helps numerous West Virginia causes.

2010 - GEN. ALLEN TACKETT, retiring after long career of leading and improving the West Virginia National Guard.

2011 - LANDAU EUGENE MURPHY JR., Logan County singer who won $1 million in the nationwide "America's Got Talent" television show competition and became a popular and positive image of West Virginia.


User Comments