Juliana Street Bridge dedicated in Sen. Frank Deem’s honor
PARKERSBURG — About 100 friends, colleagues and family gathered Friday for the dedication of a bridge in downtown Parkersburg to honor one of the longest-serving legislators in West Virginia history.
The Juliana Street Bridge spanning the Little Kanawha River was named the Senator J. Frank Deem Memorial Bridge.
“Thank you for giving this honor to Frank,” said Rebecca Deem, Deem’s widow.
Deem, a retired businessman and oil and gas developer, died Oct. 10 at the age of 90.
He served in the West Virginia Legislature, the Senate and the House of Delegates, every decade since 1954. Among his most proudest accomplishments was designing and building the golf course at North Bend State Park in Ritchie County.
Sen. Joe Manchin, Rep. David McKinley, former Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and state Supreme Court Justice Tim Armstead attended his memorial service at the First Presbyterian Church in Parkersburg.
The ceremony was held on the Parkersburg side of the bridge in the parking lot at Matheny Motors.
Speakers were Mayor Tom Joyce, who welcomed the crowd, Delegate John Kelly, R-10th, and Bob Ashley, legislative director for Gov. Jim Justice.
“This is a great honor to be here today,” Kelly said.
Early in his first term as a delegate from Wood County, Kelly said he and Deem would often discuss bills, the senior lawmaker asking Kelly how he intended to vote on a particular piece of legislation. Kelly would offer his opinion, to which Deem would enlighten him on the consequences.
“That was the day I realized I wasn’t helping Frank Deem,” Kelly said. “Frank Deem was helping me.”
The naming of the Juliana Street Bridge to honor Deem was approved in House Concurrent Resolution No. 2, which was introduced on the opening day of the session. Sponsors were Kelly and Delegates Bill Anderson, Tom Azinger and Vernon Criss, Roy Cooper, Ray Hollen, John Shott, Joe Ellington, Amy Summers, Pat McGeehan and Speaker Roger Hanshaw.
Ashley, who read the resolution, said he first met Deem in 1961when his father entered the Legislature.
Deem, who served in the U.S. Navy, more than likely will be the last World War II veteran to serve in the West Virginia Legislature.
“That in itself is an honor,” Ashley said.