Mid-Ohio Valley remembers figures who passed in 2017

Scientists, politicians, businessmen and community volunteers are among the notable deaths of Mid-Ohio Valley residents in 2017.

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Andy Woofter, 79, of Parkersburg died on Dec. 25.

Woofter, who retired in the banking industry, served on several boards and authorities including those for Blennerhassett Island, the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Airport and SW Resources. A fan of classic cars, classical music, opera and rock and roll, Woofter also was a past president of the Parkersburg Rotary.

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Dale Edward Wagner, 88, of Marietta died Dec. 14.

Wagner was a Gabe Zide Citizen of the Year and a Marietta Civitan of the Year who helped develop Cisler Park. He also served on the Halloween on the Levee committee.

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Larry Allen Fought, 68, Parkersburg, died Dec. 8.

An industrial salesman and a real estate agent, Fought organized numerous drug awareness events, working with the Caring Team for Drug Awareness and Wood County Sheriff Steve Stephens and 911 Director Rick Woodyard.

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Marjorie Rech Hamperian, 88, of Williamstown died on Dec. 7.

A graduate of Marietta College, after her children were grown she earned a master’s in piano performance at Ohio University. She performed as a pianist and organist with the Marietta College Department of Theater, was the original director of music on the Showboat Becky Thatcher in Marietta, was an organist at several churches in Parkersburg and Marietta and was associated with the Marietta and Parkersburg chorale societies.

Artsbridge honored her in 2003 for her cultural contributions to the Mid-Ohio Valley.

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Donald Franklin Flatt, 80, of Parkersburg died on Dec. 4.

He was a minister, historian and a retired professor of history at Morehead State University where he received the 1996-97 Distinguished Teacher Award and the first Outstanding Teaching Award given by the college’s Greek Councils.

Flatt wrote numerous newspaper articles and gave numerous oral history interviews. He wrote three books: “Footsteps Across the Commonwealth,” a tribute to Morehead State President and Mrs. Adron Doran upon their retirement; “A Light to the Mountains,” a history of Morehead State from 1887 to 1997; and “Winning Through to Fame and Glory: African-Americans and MSU,” the first official account of integration at Morehead State.

He participated in six Hofstra Presidential Forums, was a member of numerous historical honor societies, including the Filson Club and the Disciples of Christ Historical Society, and served on the Kentucky Preservation Board and the Kentucky Bicentennial Commission. He was a minister in the Church of Christ for more than 50 years.

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Opal Forshey Fouss, 78, of Whipple died Dec. 4.

She and her husband, Joseph Dean Fouss, were involved in the creation of the Salem Volunteer Fire Department, where she was the first president of its Ladies Auxiliary.

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Mary Edith DeMary, 78, of Williamstown died on Nov. 29.

A teacher for more than 30 years in Wood County, she coached several sports, mostly girls’ basketball and track, and continued after she retired as a timekeeper and statistician. In 2015, she received the West Virginia Secondary Schools Activities Commission Sportsmanship Award and the 2016 Super Booster Jacket from Williamstown High School.

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Mary Jane (Park) Allen, 81, of Pennsboro died on Oct. 1.

Allen was the first female mayor of Pennsboro, serving from July 2012 to June 2014. She was the longest-serving city clerk in the history of the town.

Allen was a member of the board of the Pennsboro Industrial Park, the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation-Ritchie County Board of Directors and the state Highway Safety Commission.

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Dr. Gerald L. Morgan, 80, of Vienna, died Sept. 17.

A pastor at numerous churches during his career, he was president of the Wood County Ministerial Association, president of the West Virginia Baptist Convention in 1996 and president of the Educational Society for the convention for several years.

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Phillip Jacob Robinson, 45, of Hagerstown, Md., died on Sept. 16.

He was a two-time West Virginia tennis champion from Parkersburg High School, where he graduated in 1990. He was also a starter on the school’s first soccer team.

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Lawrence E. (Larry) Ice, 62, of Vienna died on Sept. 4.

Diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease in 2004, he began a support group to help others.

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Beverly Kay Walter, 76, of Ravenswood died Sept. 2.

She was active with the Special Olympics and received the Volunteer of the Year Award.

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Ezbai Wells, 87, of Vienna died Aug. 26.

Wells was active in the development of an indoor hitting facility for the Parkersburg High School baseball team and the restoration of Bennett Stump Field at Parkersburg City Park.

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Bob Robinson Jr., former editor of The Parkersburg News, died on Aug. 12. Robinson, editor of The News from 1985 to 1989, was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize in 1978 for a breaking story about the collapse of the cooling tower at Willow Island.

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Clyde Brewer, 78, died on July 26.

He coached the Parkersburg High School basketball team from 1982 to 2005 and amassed a record of 346 wins and 195 losses. He was the winningest coach at the school.

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Doddridge County native Edward J. Kimball, 82, died on July 20.

Kimball, who established numerous Alcoholic Anonymous groups in the Parkersburg area in the 1960s, proposed a program for employees who operate trains at CSX Transportation which made workers responsible for keeping drugs and alcohol off the property.

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Paul T. Smith, 76, Beverly, died on July 20.

An avid fan of the Bengals and Ohio State, he served on Beverly Village Council and was mayor of the city for 16 years.

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Larry Wayne “Butch” Pepper Sr., 74, of Silverton, W.Va., died on July 19.

A race car driver and a drummer in a rock band, he retired from the United Steel Workers of America as assistant director of the East Coast.

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John R. Pfalzgraf, 77, of Vienna died on July 17.

He was a decorated Marine Corps fighter pilot in the Vietnam War and served on the Wood County Airport Authority.

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George Daniel Harper, 70, of Harrisville died July 9.

He was an artist whose work on canvas and pottery is collected around the world. He drew cartoons for The Glenville Democrat and The Ritchie Gazette and was named Professor Emeritus at Glenville State College.

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Doug McLain, 66, of Parkersburg, died June 24.

He was an officer for the Parkersburg Police Department for 41 years and was an EMT for St. Joseph’s Ambulance for 40 years.

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Michael Lee “Mike” King, 68, of Marietta died June 19 in Marietta.

A teacher in Wood County Schools, he was a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring No. 197 and was active with the Fellowship of Christian Magicians, performing feats of prestidigitation with a gospel message for children.

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Floyd T. “Bill” Butcher Jr., 89, of Ellenboro, died May 28.

A founding member of the Ellenboro Volunteer Fire Department, he helped with the construction of the athletic complexes at Ritchie County High School, including the field house, press boxes for the football, softball and baseball fields, and bleachers. He cleared and leveled the land for the Rebel baseball field, which is called Bill Butcher field.

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Harry J. Fitzgerald, 87, of Marietta, died on May 24.

He was a founding member of the Washington County Convention and Visitors Bureau and a past club champion at the Marietta Country Club.

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Ralph Richard Mahoney, 90, of Marietta, died May 24.

He served on the Washington County Board of Education.

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Rose Nardi, 68, of Marietta, died on May 20.

A senior vice president and chief investment officer at Peoples Bank, she taught finance and portfolio management to bankers and college students and worked with the Ohio Bankers Association in writing legislation reshaping Ohio’s laws governing portfolio management.

Nardi was involved with the United Way, the O’Neill Center, the Betsey Mills Club, St. Joseph’s Hospital, the National Society of Arts and Letters, the American Heart Association and the Valentine Project, which helps children affected by cancer and other chronic illnesses.

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Composer Donald Haddad, 83, died on May 19.

The Marietta native was a member of the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and received numerous awards for his music from the organization. His music was published and performed around the world. Haddad studied with Ernst von Dohnonyi, who was a student of Johannes Brahms.

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Dr. Robert J. Kolouch, 80, of Parkersburg, died on May 3.

A research fellow at DuPont, he was responsible for many patents and helped develop the process to replace metal chain drives with plastic that became the standard in devices such as automatic car windows and garage door openers

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Jimmy Jarrett, 84, of Vienna, died on April 25.

He was in the first graduating class of the Police Academy in Charleston and retired with more than 20 years of service as a police officer in Vienna,.

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Don Whitlatch, Parkersburg, an internationally renown wildlife artist and conservationist, died on April 22.

The famed artist was particularly known for his renditions of birds. His original watercolor, “American Bald Eagle,” was presented to Pat Nixon, wife of President Richard Nixon, at the White House.

He was named by West Virginia Gov. Arch A. Moore Jr. as the State Wildlife Artist. Whitlatch was commissioned to do paintings of Colonial Williamsburg and golf courses including the 16th hole at Augusta National, home of the Masters Tournament.

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Jack E. Boley, 83, of St. Marys died April 17.

Boley served in the U.S. Army from 1956 to 1958 and was one of only eight Atomic Veterans living in West Virginia. He participated in atomic bomb tests in Nevada, including Operation Plumbbob, which involved one of the largest troop maneuvers in an atomic blast.

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Rosalie King Andrews, 59, of Parkersburg, died on April 13.

She was Ms. Bear Creek and Miss Chainsaw in Ohio in 1982, mud wrestled and drove in the demolition derby representing Bear Creek Steak House and Resort in the International Sports Rodeo in 1982.

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Russell H. Miller, 81, of Parkersburg, died April 15.

He was a police chief for the City of Parkersburg from 1990-93. He retired as a lieutenant colonel from the West Virginia State Police in 1988 after 29 years of service.

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Jackie “Jack” Lee Barker, 81, Williamstown, died on April 13. He was a retired police chief in Pennsboro and was a California Highway Patrol police officer.

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Roger Dale Martin, 68, of Washington, W.Va., died April 11.

A U.S. Army veteran, Martin served 30 years in the Parkersburg Police Department and was involved with the Parkersburg Homecoming Committee and the Parkersburg Fishing Derby. Martin also served on the Lubeck Public Service District board.

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Gary E. Schafer, 80, of Marietta died on April 4.

He was a U.S. Army veteran who was on the Honor Guard at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier in Arlington National Cemetery. Schafer also was a bodyguard for Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon.

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Father Edward M. Bell, 79, of Parkersburg died March 29.

Bell was ordained May 23, 1964, and served as a guidance counselor, an associate pastor in Wheeling, principal at Madonna High School in Weirton, the guidance and spiritual director at St. Joseph Preparatory Seminary in Vienna, director of the St. Joseph Pastoral Center in Vienna, vicar forane of the Parkersburg Vicariate from 1980-2004 and pastor at St. Margaret Mary Parish in Parkersburg from 1980-2004.

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Freddie L. Fields, 85, died on March 28.

Fields, who enjoyed woodworking and working on cars, worked many years for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Soil Conservation Service.

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John (Johnny) L. Brownrigg, 85 of Belpre, died on March 28.

Brownrigg served in the 82nd Airborne during the Korean War and was a Belpre City Councilman for the city in the 1980s. He was involved with the creation of the Belpre PeeWee Basketball League and was commissioner of baseball.

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Herbert Wayne Palmer, 90, died on March 26. Palmer, a teacher at Williamstown High School, transferred to Parkersburg South High School when the school was established in 1967 as assistant principal. He became principal in 1968 and served until he retired in 1983.

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Kenneth Dalton Merritt, 81, died on March 21.

He served four terms as sheriff of Wood County and one term as county commissioner.

Merritt started his career in law enforcement as a conservation officer with the West Virginia Division of Natural Resources. He was a veteran of the Korean War and a president of the West Virginia Sheriff’s Association.

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James Joseph Arnold, 92, of Marietta died on March 19.

He served 24 years on the Washington County Board of Elections and for 20 years was the clock operator for the football and basketball teams at Warren High School, where he was inducted into the Warren Athletic Hall of Fame.

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Terry Jones, 67, of Parkersburg died on March 19.

A graduate of Parkersburg High School and West Virginia Wesleyan College, he was drafted out of high school by the Chicago Cubs. He was a catcher.

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Barbara (Barbi) Jo Skinner, 56, of Belpre died March 18.

She owned and operated The Station Lounge & Carry Out for 35 years.

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Donald “Chi” Chichester, 75, of Lowell died on March 17.

A businessman, he was a founding member of the Eastern Ohio Quarter Horse Association.

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Jack Monroe Cunningham, 91, of Cairo died March 14.

A veteran of World War II and the Korean War and an oil and gas man, he was a Ritchie County Commissioner for 32 years, was among the founders of North Bend Lake, participated in the site selection for Ritchie County High School and was a charter member of the board of trustees of the Oil and Gas Museum in Parkersburg.

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Gayle Beane Hall, 82, of Ripley died March 10.

A public health nurse with the Jackson County Health Department, she served as president of the West Virginia Public Health Association.

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Professor Robert Sherman Hill, 89, of Westerville, Ohio, formerly of Marietta, died March 8.

With a doctorate in political philosophy, Hill taught at Marietta College from 1959 to 1989. He then was secretary of the college Board of Trustees and special events coordinator for 10 years and taught in the Learning in Retirement Program at the college.

Hill was a founder of the annual presentation of Handel’s “Messiah” and sang at the show with the Marietta College Chorale for more than 40 years. He also helped found the River Cities Symphony.

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Margaret “Betsy” Smith Murray, 92, formerly of Marietta, died at March 7 in Durham, N.C.

She graduated from Pennsylvania State University, where she was among the first female cheerleaders. She was a thespian; a volunteer who organized auxiliary and other groups at major hospitals and churches; was a member of the Mozart Club in New York, among the oldest musical organizations in the state; and was a member of the Musical Coterie of Wayne in Philadelphia. In Parkersburg, she was a member of the Parkersburg Day Nursery Board, the National Society of Arts and Letters, the Colonial Dames of America, the River Hills Garden Club and the West Virginia Symphony League.

She sang in the Episcopal Church choirs wherever she lived, did the publicity for many groups and her first and only paid job was as a continuity writer for WHGB radio in Harrisburg, Pa., where she was on “Betsy Says” and “Your Doctor Speaking.”

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Roy C. Fluharty Jr., 84, of Marietta died March 4.

The U.S. Air Force veteran worked in intelligence, was active during the Cuban Missile Crisis and was a Russian linguist during the Cold War. Fluharty was the founding president of the Marietta Chapter of the Sons of the American Revolution, which formed in 2005.

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Dr. James E. Hoy, 84, of Marietta died Feb. 24.

Hoy practiced ophthalmology in Marietta from 1966 to 1990 and was a member of the International Brotherhood of Magicians Ring No. 197, a group of magic enthusiasts, and was the past director of the Institute for Learning in Retirement.

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Robert “Bob” Stout, 74, of Parkersburg died on Feb. 21. He was a director of the Wood County Recreation Commission and was its sports coordinator.

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David H. Brown, 74, of Parkersburg died on Feb. 20. He owned the Brown Asphalt Paving Co.

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The Rev. Robert (Bob) Stanley Jr., 80, died on Feb. 14. An accomplished gospel singer, he was elected to the Wirt County Board of Education.

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James Henry Goodwin, 72, died on Feb. 12. The Wirt County High School graduate, as a member of American Legion Post 15, coached the Legion baseball team for more than 25 years and amassed more than 500 wins.

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Madeline Boston Coe, 98, died Feb. 12. A teacher of more than 50 years who was a few credit hours short of a doctorate, she was known in the education community and wrote numerous articles about literacy training.

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Edward Charles Glasser, 82, of Parkersburg died on Feb. 6.

He was the project construction manager for the remodeling of Union Station in Washington, D.C., served on the Parkersburg Utility Board and was a past Exalted Ruler of Elks Lodge 198.

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Eldon James “Wimp” Haught, 80, of Smithville died on Feb. 2.

Haught was inducted into the West Virginia Aviation Hall of Fame for serving 35 years in the state Aeronautics Commission. He was instrumental in securing funding for many state airports and was particularly proud for acquiring a fire fighting simulator for training on how to respond to a burning aircraft.

He was instrumental in securing funding for the North Fork Lake and Dam project and later the recreational area, which has been named the Eldon J. Haught Lakeside Recreation Area in Harrisville.

Among awards and accomplishments: the 2003 Jefferson Award created by Jacqueline Kennedy for outstanding community service; 1999 Ritchie County Citizen of the Year; Community Service Award from the Daughters of the American Revolution; served on the Mid-Ohio Valley Regional Council; helped obtain funding for the North Bend Rail Trail, Ritchie County High School weight room and the Ritchie Regional Health Center.

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Otis Leggett, 97, who served 10 terms in the West Virginia House of Delegates from the 7th District in Pleasants and Ritchie counties, died on Jan. 30.

The Doddridge County native sold his calf to pay the $32 tuition to attend Glenville State College. He later received a master’s in education from West Virginia University. A reason he went to Glenville was because he knew someone there who liked to go frog hunting.

Leggett taught school in Wood County, was a superintendent of schools in Ritchie County and a principal in Pleasants County.

He retired from education after 42 years and in 1986 ran for the House of Delegates

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L. Jean Westfall, 85, of Harrisville died Jan. 27.

An educator with a doctorate from Kent State University, she was chairman of the Board of the Union Bank of Harrisville in 1987, president of the Ritchie County Chamber of Commerce in 1993-94, Director of the Year for CB&T in 1992 and served on the Ritchie County Board of Education from 1994 to 2007.

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Evelyn Joan (Timmy) Storck, 94, died on Jan. 24.

She was a founder of the original Art League and a benefactor of the Parkersburg Art Center. She founded the Bread of Life Fund at First Lutheran Church and was a founder and benefactor of the Elizabeth Embelton School of Dance in Parkersburg. Her husband and family owned the Storck Baking Co.

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Alberta Kelley Ireland, 99, of Harrisville died on Jan. 24.

A long-time teacher in Ritchie County, she received the Distinguished Mountaineer Award in 2002 from then-West Virginia Secretary of State Joe Manchin.

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Robert “Bob” Walsh, 76, who taught at Marietta College, died on Jan. 23 while on business in Istanbul.

Walsh, a 2013 Marietta College Hall of Honor inductee, was known in professional sports, broadcasting and business. A broadcast major at Marietta College, he was a producer of shows that included hosts like Regis Philbin and NBA great Bill Russell. Russell hired Walsh as an assistant general manager of the Seattle SuperSonics.

He left the Sonics in 1976 and represented professional athletes and promoted sporting events. He created the March Madness celebration as executive director of the NCAA Final Four Host Committee in 1984.

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James “Pastor Jim” Delano Fernihough, 83, of Marietta died on Jan. 22.

Among numerous activities, he was the administrator of the School of Hope for Trainable Children, started sheltered workshops in Belmont and Washington counties, was administrator of the Washington County Behavioral Health Board for a year, then became administrator for Athens County Behavioral Health Board from 1969 to 1971.

With a master’s in education, he taught Occupational Work Experience at Fort Frye High School from 1971 until retiring from teaching in 1985. He then accepted a position as manager at Washington County Credit Union, substitute taught in Belpre and St. Marys schools and was an International Teaching Fellow in Australia where he taught at the Croxton Special School in Melbourne for a year in 1979.

In 1990 he attended Garrett Evangelical Theological Seminary and became an ordained minister, serving churches at Sarahsville, Olive Green, Caldwell and Macksburg, as well as St. Johns Evangelical Church in Lowell where he retired in 2008.

An active member and past commander of American Legion Post 64, he was a veterans service commissioner for Washington County from 2005 until retiring in 2015.

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Kathy Wood, 47, of Chloe died on Jan. 22.

She was the director of Calhoun County E-911 and Office of Emergency Service, having been appointed in 2009. She also was a corrections officer and an emergency medical technician.

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Paul Steven Wells, 67, of Vienna died on Jan. 22.

An active member of the Blues, Jazz, and Folk Music Society of Marietta, he organized the Blues in the School Artist-in-Residency Program for middle school students in Wood and Washington counties.

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John Manning Negley Jr., 63, of Williamstown died Jan. 21.

Negley founded the West Virginia Bowhunters Association in 1980 and served as its first president. The organization, which had grown to more than 3,000 members, inducted Negley into its hall of fame in 2002. He was a recipient of the West Virginia Bowhunter of the Year and the West Virginia Expert Bowhunter awards, among others.

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Howard Deem, 90, of Rockport died on Jan. 21.

A fighter pilot in World War II, he was hired by Henry Ford Sr. at Ford Motor Company and was instrumental in building the Ford foundry and engine plant in Cleveland. He worked for the Nelson Rockefeller Foundation, in executive management career with several international corporations and founded Deem International. Deem worked for two governors of West Virginia and St. Joseph’s Hospital and Parkersburg Cardiology to establish open-heart surgery in Parkersburg.

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John Franklin Laughery, 86, of Parkersburg, died on Jan. 17.

A retired Wood County deputy sheriff, he was named the Outstanding Officer of his class at the West Virginia State Police Academy.

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Charles Edward Mitchell, 100 years, 7 months, died on Jan. 17.

He was the oldest living alumnus of the Parkersburg High School Marching Band where he played the sousaphone under band Director George Deitz. Mitchell graduated in 1934.

A retired railroad conductor, Mitchell was a musician capable of playing the violin, piano, organ and other instruments.

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Joan Toller, 90, of Marietta died on Jan. 14.

Among her affiliations, she was a charter member of The Castle Board of Directors, past member of the Betsey Mills Club Girls and Corporate boards and a docent at Campus Martius Museum, the Toy and Doll Museum and The Castle.

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Jean Grapes of Parkersburg died on Jan. 13.

In 1990, she became the first and only woman elected to the Wood County Commission, where she organized an agreement with the Belleville hydroelectric plant for a payment in lieu of taxes, which provided revenue for the schools.

Grapes was executive director of the Wood County Democratic Executive Committee for 20 years, served on the West Virginia State Democratic Executive Committee for 12 years, campaigned for local and state Democratic candidates and was the Wood County Democrat of the Year in 1996. Grapes attended the 2008 National Democratic Convention and participated in then-candidate Barack Obama’s nomination for his first term as president.

Grapes led efforts to buy a building for the House to Home day shelter, served on the Board of Directors for House to Home for more than 10 years and was among the founders of the Scottish & Celtic Heritage Festival.

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Daniel Barry Wharton, 75, of Parkersburg died on Jan. 11.

After he graduated from college, he became a salesman at Hupp and Wharton Cadillac Olds owned by his father Gilmer and business partner Harold Hupp. Wharton became the president and owner of the dealership and remained active while his son Daniel ran the day-to-day operations of the company.

Wharton served on the boards of the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation, United Way of the Mid-Ohio Valley and United Bank, was chairman of the West Virginia University Board of Advisers, a Parkersburg Lions Club member for more than 50 years, participated in the Wood County Society telethon and Allohak Council annual Boy Scout leadership dinner.

He was a past president in the West Virginia Auto and Truck Dealers Association and twice was named the Time Quality Dealer from West Virginia by Time Magazine. He was a member of the National Automobile Dealers Board of Directors and the National Automobile Dealers’ Charitable Foundation.

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Evelyn G. Morehead, 95, of Parkersburg died on Jan. 9.

She and her husband, Charles, who survives, were married Nov. 28, 1936. Theirs was among the longest marriages recorded in the United States.

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Glenn D. Miller, 84, of Parkersburg died on Jan. 7.

Miller dedicated his life to the Boy Scouts and served for 53 years with Troop 16, where he mentored 149 Eagle Scouts.

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Oran R. Adams, 80, of Waterford died on Jan. 7.

He taught at Waterford High School from 1958 until his retirement in 1996. He was the scorekeeper for the Waterford boys basketball team for more than 60 years and was the only Waterford football statistician until 2015.

Adams announced the Waterford football games and was known as “The Voice of the Wildcats.”

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Howard C. Nau, 77, of Caldwell, died on Jan. 4.

He was the past president of the United Steel Workers of America Local 4836.

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Pamela Jean Bookman, 72, of Belpre, died on Jan. 3.

She started college at the age of 40 and after several years obtained a master’s in management of technology. Upon graduation, she was promoted to Federal Women’s Program Manager in the Equal Opportunity Program Office at Kennedy Space Center. After an assignment as executive officer to the NASA chief scientist at the space group’s headquarters in Washington, D.C., she then returned to the Space Center. Among awards she received., Bookman was inducted into the Space Foundation Technology Hall of Fame in April 2000.

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Charles Marshall Jr., 95, of Williamstown died on Jan. 3.

He served in the United States Army Air Corps in World War II and was a prisoner of war for 21 months at Stalag 17B in Austria.

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