Sunday Gazette-Mail West Virginians of the Year

By Staff reports

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 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 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, later U.S. 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 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 WVU. 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 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, D-W.Va., a courageous lone voice resisting the plunge to unnecessary war in Iraq. 2003 - Pfc. JESSICA LYNCH of Wirt County, who became America's hero after she was severely wounded, 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 MURPHY, Logan County singer who won $1 million in the nationwide "America's Got Talent" competition and became a popular image of West Virginia. 2012 - DR. DAN FOSTER, Charleston physician and state senator who works endlessly for medical cost reform.
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