CHARLESTON - Wood County and state leaders are mourning the loss of former U.S. Rep. David "Mick" Staton.
The former congressman, private consultant and leader in the state Republican Party died Monday at the age of 74.
Former Wood County commissioner Rick Modesitt said he met Staton about 15 years ago.
"I met him at a Republican Party function. He introduced himself to me and told me he was born in Parkersburg. I hadn't known him when he lived here. But we started talking and found we had a lot in common. I became part of the West Virginia State Republican Committee and he was always active and always participating. In fact, even after he became ill he still attended the meetings," Modesitt said.
"He was really a loyal Republican, extremely proud of his service in the U.S. Congress and he always tried to help people even after his time in Congress; he was a super good guy," Modesitt said.
Staton was hired by the Wood County Commission in his capacity as a private grant consultant and served in that capacity for several years.
"He worked very hard for us, always looking for grants to help Wood County. He was instrumental in helping get the grant funding that helped us purchase the Emergency Services Command vehicle, that helped Hino Motors as well as the county," Modesitt said.
"He will be missed; he was well-respected and always had a smile on his face and a positive thing to say," Modesitt said.
Wood County Commissioner Blair Couch recalled meeting Staton at a Republican function in Flatwoods.
"I was really impressed with him. He was very well-spoken, quite a gentleman and he seemed generally interested in a newly elected kid from Wood County. Little did I know we would have great conversations later during his time as a federal grant coordinator. He was always very kind and he did a great job for us," Couch said. "Regardless of his party affiliation, public service was obviously always a very big part of his life."
West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas said West Virginians across the state are mourning Staton's passing.
"Congressman Staton was a distinguished leader for the West Virginia Republican Party and waged many difficult and challenging fights for our conservative principles," Lucas said.
"Congressman Staton was a lifelong West Virginian who held a big place in his heart for the people of this great state. His devotion to public service stands as a testament to his dedication to all West Virginians. Congressman Staton was a trailblazer for the Republican movement and the State of West Virginia is better because of Congressman Staton's service," Lucas said.
Last year Staton served as a presidential elector for West Virginia. Last month, the West Virginia Republican Party named Staton one of five emeritus members of the West Virginia Republican State Executive Committee.
"Mick Staton was a dear friend to all West Virginians and a Mountaineer in the truest of forms who will be deeply missed. Our thoughts and prayers are with his wife Lynn and their family. I pray that God will bless Mick Staton and may he rest in peace," Lucas said.
Staton had most recently served as president of Capitol Link Inc., a government affairs consulting firm. Before forming Capitol Link in 1992, Staton was chief political adviser to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and national executive director of the chamber's political action committee.
He served in the U.S. House of Representatives from the 3rd District, now the 2nd District of West Virginia. His committee assignments included Small Business and Interior & Insular Affairs.
Staton served one term in Congress from 1981 to 1983. The Parkersburg native lost a re-election bid to Democrat Bob Wise, who later became governor.
Wise, who now serves as the president of the Alliance for Excellent Education, issued a statement on learning of Staton's passing.
"Former U.S. Representative Mick Staton was a trailblazer in West Virginia politics and the Republican party and demonstrated what hard work could accomplish. He was much more than a political figure. After our fiercely contested election, he reached out to be friends, and repeatedly demonstrated kindness and interest. He lived the values of family, faith, service and patriotism, and he will be much missed," Wise said.
Staton had been living in Inwood, Berkeley County.
Before serving in Congress, he was vice president for data processing for One Valley Bank, now BB & T.
Born and raised in Parkersburg, Staton graduated from Parkersburg High School in 1958 as did his wife of 48 years, Lynn, who was an honors graduate in 1960. Mick and Lynn have two grown children and five grandchildren. He attended Concord College, where he was a member of the 1962 conference championship football team.
Staton first ran for Congress in 1978 opposing 20-year incumbent John Slack, D-W.Va. In that race Staton garnered 41 percent of the vote. In January 1980, Slack died in office and a special election was held.
Staton and former Charleston Mayor John Hutchinson, a Democrat, were the nominees. Hutchinson won 53 percent-47 percent, but in the general election in November, Staton won the full term by a vote of 53 percent-47 percent.
Staton served as county chairman of the Berkeley County GOP Executive Committee from 2007 through December 2012.