David Leonard McKain
David Leonard McKain died at his home in Parkersburg, on Aug. 25, 2014.
He was born on May 7, 1934, in Cumberland, Md.
McKain was raised in Parkersburg, was a member of Boy Scout Troop 3, and graduated from Parkersburg High School. He earned a degree in Political Science and Economics at West Virginia University and received a scholarship from the Scottish Rite Bodies of West Virginia for Master’s Degree work in Management and Economics at George Washington University. He also served in the U.S. Army, stationed in Korea 16 months.
Best known for his contributions to the West Virginia oil and gas industry, McKain made an impact throughout his career. From 1960 to 1970, he was one of three civilian executives working for the Army Chief of Staff at the Pentagon. He directed the Army’s efforts to integrate the development of its information, management, computer and communication systems, heading a staff of nine Lieutenant Colonels. Upon leaving, McKain received the Army’s highest civilian award, the Meritorious Civilian Service Award.
From 1970 to 1991, McKain was President and owner of Acme Fishing Tool Company, founded by his grandfather, George McKain, at the height of West Virginia’s oil and gas boom in 1900. Acme was recognized nationally and internationally as a premier manufacturer of cable drilling and fishing tools.
In 1991, he founded Parkersburg Tool Company with Roger Riddle with whom he was co-owner. He retired in 2012.
Passionate about the history of Parkersburg and the oil and gas industry in West Virginia, he founded the Oil, Gas and Industrial Historical Association which includes the Oil and Gas Museum, industrial exhibits, California House, Burning Springs Park, Ritchie Mines and Henderson Hall.
He researched and co-wrote “Where It All Began,” a book released in 1994. Many findings were detailed, the most significant of which proved the first commercial oil well in the world was drilled at Burning Springs, W.Va., and not in Pennsylvania. He also authored “The Civil War and Northwestern Virginia,” “Parkersburg City Directory 1870-1871” and the soon-to-be-released “Foiled,” which recounts the involvement of Wood County citizens in the Aaron Burr treason trial. “Where It All Began” inspired the recently released television documentary “Burning Springs.”
The primary heir of Henderson Hall, high school friend Mike Ralston, trusted McKain and his associates to continue the legacy of the Henderson Family which resulted in the bequest of the Hall to the Oil, Gas and Industrial Historical Association in 2007. McKain brought his special passion to transforming the family home into a first class historical site.
McKain chaired the Civil War Roundtable which planned the commemoration of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War. Over the past few years, McKain wrote a series of articles for The Parkersburg News and Sentinel on Wood County Civil War history as part of the 150th anniversary of the war.
He was also a philatelist and postal historian and won international awards for his exhibits of Canadian Railroad Postal history. He served on the board of the British North American Philatelic Society.
McKain received many honors and awards throughout his career including Honorary Bachelor of Arts Degree West Virginia University at Parkersburg, the Independent Oil and Gas Association West Virginia Oil and Gas Man of the Year, Historic Preservation Award Wood County Historical Society, Keeper of the Flame Award Petroleum History Institute, and the Artsbridge Visionary of the Year Award. He was a member of the Rotary Club of Parkersburg, Wood County Historical Society, Independent Oil and Gas Association, West Virginia Oil and Gas Association, Southeastern Ohio Oil and Gas Association, Parkersburg Homecoming, Parkersburg Convention and Visitors Bureau, Troop 3 Committee and the Alumni Association.
He and his wife Sue enjoyed boating. They also loved music, especially classical, jazz, the A Cappella Choir and the Big Red Band. He revered his friendships and loved telling stories about his unique and exciting life experiences over dinner. His wisdom and advice have influenced many over the years. He took great joy in mentoring young people whether in the workplace or in volunteer organizations, especially with members of Troop 3.
McKain was preceded in death by his beloved wife, Sue Burke McKain; his parents, Lillian B. and Walter P. McKain; and his dear Aunt Harriet and Uncle Louis Ludlow. He is survived by his children, Margaret Grier and husband James of Boerne, Texas, Carolyn Blend of Buckhannon, W.Va., David Leonard McKain, Jr. and wife Kristen of Morgantown, W.Va., Katherine Chesley and husband David of Charleston, W.Va., and John McKain and wife Carla of Ithaca, N.Y.; grandchildren, Brian and Eric Blend, Benigno and Gabriella McKain and Jonathan Grier and wife Priscilla; step-grandchildren, Konnor and Willow Brown; great-grandson, James Grier; step-great-grandson, Gabriel Hernandez; his sister, Carolyn McKain Zwahlen of Littleton, Colo.; brother, Walter P. McKain Jr. and wife Connie of Lusby, Md.; many dear cousins, nieces and nephews; and dog, Rosey.
The family expresses its deep appreciation for the wonderful care provided by Housecalls Hospice, Home Helpers, Nancy Smith and Sandy Walker.
Visitation will be held from 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Friday, Aug. 29, at Leavitt Funeral Home, 403 7th Street, Parkersburg. The memorial service will be held 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, at First Presbyterian Church, 1341 Juliana St., Parkersburg, with the Rev. Michael Seely officiating.
Gifts in remembrance of McKain may be made to the Oil, Gas and Industrial Historical Association in Parkersburg.