Charleston West Virginia Economic Development

Discussions on Economic and Community Development in West Virginia and the Charleston MSA as well as issues of the Charleston Regional Chamber of Commerce.

Friday, January 02, 2009

The story below appeared in Thursday's Charleston Daily Mail. Note the portion recognizing Angus Peyton, who played a major role in the creation of what would become the Charleston Area Alliance.

State mourned loss of many notable West Virginians last year

Some of the world's legends made their exits in 2008.

Several - Mt. Everest tamer Sir Edmund Hillary and chess champion Bobby Fischer - blazed trails and set records. A few, from "Sunny" Von Bulow to "Deep Throat" Mark Felt, were either centered in scandal or cloaked in mystery. Performers Eartha Kitt, George Carlin, Paul Newman and Charlton Heston inspired legions of fans and crossed the generation divide. Some deaths were so unexpected - new anchors Tim Russert, comedian Bernie Mac, actor Heath Ledger - they made the whole nation take pause.

The Mountain State lost several of its own last year.

A governor who came on the political scene as a 20-something with movie-star good looks had enough longevity to get re-elected four decades later as one of West Virginia's elder statesmen.
A lawyer and philanthropist had such a vision for Charleston that it spurred many others in the city to help him make it a reality.

And a witty, wise-cracking newspaper man found he could make people stop and think with a few sentences in a story or just a couple of words that he spoke.

Here's a sampling of the many notable West Virginians who died in 2008.

Del. Bill Proudfoot, D-Randolph, died Dec. 23 after losing control of his truck on an icy U.S. 33 in Barbour County. Proudfoot, 68, of Elkins, was House Judiciary chairman. An 18-year veteran of the House of Delegates, the retired vocational school administrator had served in various leadership posts and was revered for his dedication to his constituents and his family.

Gov. Cecil Underwood, who held the distinction of being both the state's youngest and oldest elected governor, died Nov. 24, at the age of 86, after several years of declining health. The Tyler County native and Republican was first elected in 1956, when schools were still being desegregated, and went back to the Governor's Mansion in 1996 after stints working for coal and chemical companies and serving as president of Bethany College.

Former state Supreme Court Justice Tom Miller died Aug. 12. He was 79. Miller, a longtime Wheeling attorney, served on the court for 17 years, from 1977 to 199, and served several times as chief justice. He was credited with helping the court increase its written opinions. He wrote the 1993 opinion paving the way for many convicted criminals to get new trials after former State Police lab chemist Fred Zain's work was called into question.

Mercer County Del. Eustace Frederick, a Democrat, was a former coal mine operator who got his start in politics when he was appointed to the Legislature in 1993. He was re-elected the next year and served in the House until his death on Nov. 6, at the age of 78. Throughout his tenure, he was known for his strong support of West Virginia coal. He had been ill for several years but continued to attend legislative sessions, remaining vocal about issues closest to his heart, including education initiatives and tax increases.

Robert Staker
, former U.S. District Court judge, died Nov. 30. Born in Kermit, he practiced law in Williamson and took a seat on the bench in Mingo County Circuit Court in 1969. In 1979, President Jimmy Carter appointed him to serve the Southern District of West Virginia in Huntington, where he retired to senior judge status in 1995.

The former chairman of the state Lottery Commission, John Bowling, was best known in his hometown of White Sulphur Springs as the longtime mayor there, serving at City Hall throughout the 1970s and 1980s. But his elected offices stacked up: He was in the House of Delegates, the state Senate and on the Greenbrier County Commission. By trade, he ran his family's furniture business, Bowlings Inc. He was 77 when he passed away on Feb. 9.

Tom Burns
had long battled Parkinson's disease before passing away Dec. 21 at the age of 80. The state's former economic development director, he was instrumental in helping attract Toyota to open its plant in Putnam County. Burns served in the development office under Govs. Gaston Caperton and Cecil Underwood, but before that he was a successful telephone company executive who worked in several states and New Zealand.


John Deaver Drinko
died Jan. 30 at 86. One of Marshall University's most successful alumni and generous benefactors, the St. Mary's native went to work for a Cleveland law firm in 1945, right out of law school, and eventually became a managing partner. He donated millions of dollars to at least a dozen colleges and universities, including Marshall, which named its library in his honor.

Economic development guru Angus E. Peyton did a little bit of everything. He was a lawyer, a banker, a businessman, but his legacy is that of a loyal philanthropist who worked tirelessly for the causes he cared about. He left his imprint on several major civic ventures, from the creation of the Business and Industrial Development Corp., now the Charleston Area Alliance, to the West Virginia Graduate College in South Charleston. He died Dec. 18 at 81.
Henry E. Payne III made his mark on West Virginia in several ways, as an engineer, a media mogul and a thinker. Described as a brilliant researcher, with degrees from Yale and Princeton, Payne dabbled in rocket science before starting his own company, Payne Engineering. The Illinois native settled in Charleston, where he raised a family and co-founded The State Journal, a weekly business publication.

The senior vice president of operations for Mountaineer Gas, who worked his way up in the industry over four decades, died Feb. 13 on his family's farm. Danny Chandler, 61, had been in the natural gas business in West Virginia since 1967, when he started as an office messenger at United Fuel. He was regarded among his colleagues for his no-nonsense, efficient approach to getting the job done right.


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