Edward Russel Lehew passed away on March 11, 2014, at the Select Specialty unit of the Good Samaritan Hospital in Zanesville, Ohio, with his loving family by his side.
He married Shirley Jane (Wigal) Lehew on April 5, 1972. They lived on Meldahl Road in the Washington Bottom area of Wood County.
He was born Oct. 16, 1924, at Waverly, Wood County, W.Va., a son of the late Edward Russell and Ruby Mary (Pitman) Lehew. While still a student at the Williamstown High School, he enlisted in the Navy on Oct. 24, 1941, and was honorably discharged on Oct. 7, 1953. During WWII, he served as Aviation Ordnance 1c aboard the U.S.S. Sangamon (CVE-26). Those brave combat veterans who served aboard this ship were awarded the Presidential Unit Citation "For extraordinary heroism in action against enemy forces in the air, ashore and afloat.
Her outstanding record of destruction to the enemy's vital ships, planes and emplacements is evidence of the SANGAMON'S fighting spirit and of the gallantry and skill of her officers and men which enhance the finest traditions of the United States Naval Service." When Tom Brokaw acknowledged THE GREATEST GENERATION, it was devoted Americans like Edward Russel Lehew that he was referring to.
For many years, Ed was a member of the Parkersburg Masonic Lodge No.169. Both Ed and Shirley were active members of the West Virginia Christmas Tree Growers Association for the first eight years of their marriage.
In 1973, he resigned from the Kaiser Aluminum Corporation's Belpre, Ohio plant to accept the newly created position of Executive Director of the Wood County Parks and Recreation Commission. A few years before this appointment, and while still serving as President of the Wadesville Community Improvement Association, he met with Governor Hulett C. Smith in an effort to begin plans for a State Park to be located in Wood County. Soon, Ed expanded his search for funding and support to include Senators Robert C. Byrd and Jennings Randolph and Governor John D. Rockefeller, Jr. By working closely with these and many other State and local officials and organizations, the 23 million dollar development of Mountwood Park was realized. Ed was always especially proud of the fact that he was able to secure funding for the White Oak Village Regional Activities and Recreational Center for the Handicapped, which was developed on a 200-acre site within the 26,000-acre area that is Mountwood Park. Noteworthy about this special project is the fact that funding for White Oak Village was acquired literally by an act of Congress. Senator Randolph, then chairman of the Senate subcommittee on the handicapped, added language to section 304(b) of the rehabilitation act of 1973, providing legislative authority to create White Oak Village.
Following the completion of the planning, funding and final creation of both Mountwood Park and White Oak Village, Ed and Shirley decided to try something new both for themselves and the area. In 1985, they opened the Williamstown Antique Mall in Williamstown, W.Va. This unique, multi-dealer antique shop soon became a favorite destination for the advanced collectors of Roseville, and Weller Pottery, investment quality toys and furniture, and, of course, vintage glassware, especially made by the Fenton Art Glass Factory of Williamstown. The Williamstown Antique Mall quickly became an example and an inspiration for others in the area to follow. Ed and Shirley turned the ownership and operation of the mall to its new owners in the Spring of 2000.
Survivors include his wife, Shirley Jane Wigal Lehew; his son, Christian R. (Anita) Lehew of York, S.C.; a grandson, Christian Robert Lehew; two granddaughters, Malone and Ryan Lehew, all of Redman, Wash.; and several nieces and nephews. He was preceded in death by his parents; a brother, Virgil Eugene Lehew; and a sister, Beatrice K. Smith.
Services will be 2 p.m. Monday, March 17, at the Leavitt Funeral Home, Belpre, with Rev. Janice Hill officiating. Burial will follow in the Riverview Cemetery, Waverly. Friends may call 2-4 p.m. and 6-8 p.m. Sunday, March 16, at the funeral home.
Online condolences may be sent to the family at www.leavittfuneralhome.com