HERBERT SMOOT FAHLGREN, "Smoot," passed from this life on May 22, 2020, at the age of 89, surrounded by family, in his home on Mill Run Farm in Parkersburg, West Virginia.
Smoot was born in Parkersburg on August 17, 1930, and was a lifelong resident of the community he loved so much. He graduated from Parkersburg High School in 1948 and subsequently earned his undergraduate degree in 1953, attending both the University of Virginia and Marietta College.
Smoot is survived by his sister, Anne Ferguson, daughter, Rebecca Ann Graff Hertrich, son, John David Fahlgren, and six grandchildren: Stefan Smoot Graff, Joshua Smoot Fahlgren, John Morgan Graff, Cade Smoot Fahlgren, Emma Brooke Fahlgren and Madelaine Joy Fahlgren. His beloved wife of 58 years, Judith Ann "Judy" Henniger, died in 2010. Their first son, Steven Smoot Fahlgren, died in 2009.
Smoot was a rare individual of many dimensions, which included his uncanny ability to inspire and bring out the very best in everyone. From that base, he left a remarkable legacy everywhere he went, from Washington Avenue to Madison Avenue. To say he was gregarious or ambitious would be an enormous understatement. He was the proverbial "hail fellow well met" with a larger than personality and driving sensation to succeed in everything he did.
Following his service in the U.S. Army, he returned to Parkersburg and went to work for Smoot Outdoor Advertising, but within two years set out on his own path founding Fahlgren Advertising in 1962. Beginning by modestly hanging a shingle from a small, downtown office space, the rest they say is history. Over the years, Fahlgren Advertising acquired many companies, had many names and represented many of the most prized brands in America, ultimately earning a label as one of the nation's most respected and largest independently managed advertising and marketing communications firms in the country. The company bearing his name was eventually sold to Interpublic Group in 1988. That sounds like a happy ending, but Smoot not surprisingly had other plans, repurchasing the Agency a short time later and began the rebuilding process once again. A second sale occurred in 2018, several years following his retirement as Chairman.
Smoot had one gear full throttle. And, as if he was not busy enough always pitching new business on behalf of the Agency, he somehow found time to devote countless hours to his second love thoroughbreds. He selectively bought, sold and raced thoroughbreds for years and, in the course of that adventure, created Mill Run Farm in 1977, his "almost heaven" family retreat that doubled as an entertainment centerpiece for close friends and clients. In 1989, Smoot and Judy found a second piece of paradise in Jupiter, Florida, where they spent a majority of the winters to follow.
Smoot served as a member of the Board of West Virginia University Foundation, a director of United Bankshares, a deacon and elder of the First Presbyterian Church, President of the Wood County Airport Authority, Chairman of the Boy Scouts of America fund raiser (multiple times), and a member of the West Virginia Roundtable. He was honored by the Parkersburg Chamber of Commerce as the 1958 Outstanding Young Man, the Elk's Citizen of the Year, the Jaycee's Young Man of the Year Award, and in 2005 was the first-ever recipient of the Lorenelle White Lifetime Achievement Award honoring his significant contributions to West Virginia, its people and its progress.
From his multiple successes in the business world, to his countless friendships, his most treasured gift of all was the love of his life, his beautiful wife Judy, and his family. Without question, "His was a full life, well lived."
A graveside service for friends and family will be held 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 26, at Mt. Olivet Cemetery, with a brief viewing beginning at 1 p.m. For those unable to attend the service, please visit Leavitt Funeral Home's Facebook page at 1:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
In lieu of flowers, the family kindly asks that any gifts be made directly to the H. Smoot and Judith Fahlgren Fund at the Parkersburg Community Foundation, P.O. Box 1762, Parkersburg, WV 26102. All monies raised will benefit TBD local services that were close to the hearts of Smoot and Judy.