People of Note in Marion County

Lenna Yost Marker

Sources: Effland, Anne Wallace. Lenna Lowe Yost, 1878-1972. Missing Chapters. Charleston: West Virginia Women Commission & the Humanities Foundation of West Virginia, 1983

Activist Lenna Lowe Yost (January 25, 1878-May 7, 1972) held key leadership roles in the woman’s suffrage movement and Women’s Christian Temperance Union (WCTU). She was born in Basnettville, Marion County, graduated from West Virginia Wesleyan College, and, in 1899, married Ellis Asby Yost.

Lenna Lowe Yost was the state president of the WCTU (1908–18), state legislative chair of the West Virginia Federation of Women’s Clubs (1915), president of the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association (1917–19), legislative representative for the national WCTU (1918), and Washington correspondent for the national WCTU’s Union Signal (1919–30). She lobbied Congress to adopt the 19th Amendment, providing the vote to women, and in 1920 successfully chaired the West Virginia Equal Suffrage Association Ratification Committee.

Yost represented the United States at international congresses against alcoholism in 1921 (Switzerland) and 1923 (Denmark). She was the first woman to hold a variety of positions within the state’s Republican Party, directed the Women’s Division of the national Republican Party (1930–34), lobbied to build the Federal Prison for Women in Alderson, and was the first woman on the State Board of Education (1920s–’30s) and the West Virginia Wesleyan College Board of Trustees (1927–42). She spearheaded efforts to build Elizabeth Moore Hall at West Virginia University and to get the American Association of University Women to recognize the state’s colleges. Yost died in Washington.



Brigadier General Frank "Pete" K. Everest Jr.
Brigadier General
Frank "Pete" K. Everest Jr.
Retired March 1, 1973

Brigadier General Frank Kendall Everest Jr., is commander, Aerospace Rescue and Recovery Service, Military Airlift Command, Scott Air Force Base, Ill. The organization provides a worldwide capability to search for, locate and recover personnel and aerospace hardware in support of U.S. Air Force and other Department of Defense aerospace operations.

General Everest was born in Fairmont, W.Va., in 1920. After he graduated from high school in 1931, he attended Fairmont State College for one year. He later studied engineering at West Virginia University to prepare himself for a flying career. He graduated from the Armed Forces Staff College, Norfolk, Va., in 1956. He entered the U.S. Army Air Forces pilot training in November 1941, graduated and received a commission in July 1942. He flew 94 combat missions in Africa, Sicily and Italy. He was also later assigned to the China-Burma-India Theater of Operations where he commanded the 17th Fighter Squadron of the 5th Fighter Group at Chinkiang, China. He completed 67 combat missions and destroyed four Japanese aircraft before his plane was shot down by ground fire in May 1945. He was captured and remained a Japanese prisoner of war until the end of hostilities.

Following a rest leave, General Everest was assigned in February 1946 to the Flight Test Division at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base, Ohio, as a test pilot. He took part in many experimental tests of the Bell X-1 and established an unofficial world altitude record of 73,000 feet.


In September 1951 he was transferred to the Air Force Flight Test Center at Edwards Air Force Base, Calif., and became the chief Air Force test pilot as head of the Flight Test Operations Division. During his stay at Edwards, General Everest tested the X-1, 2, 3, 4 and 5; XF-92 and YB-52. He also took part in test programs for the F-100, 101, 102, 104 and 105; the B-52, 57 and 66 aircraft. On Oct. 29, 1953, he established a world speed record of 755.149 mph in a YF-100.

General Everest test-flew the Bell X-1B to a speed of Mach 2.3 (2.3 times the speed of sound) in December 1954, making him the second fastest man in the world, Later flights in the Bell X-2 rocket plane established him as "the fastest man alive" when he attained a new unofficial speed record of 1,957 mph or Mach 2.9. the 4520th Combat Crew Training Wing.

His military decorations and awards include the Legion of Merit with oak leaf cluster, Distinguished Flying Cross with two oak leaf clusters, Air Medal with seven oak leaf clusters, Air Force Commendation Medal with oak leaf cluster, Purple Heart, Distinguished Unit Citation Emblem with two oak leaf clusters, Air Force Outstanding Unit Award Ribbon, and the Chinese Aviation Award. He is a command pilot with more than 9,000 flying hours and a graduate of the U.S. Army Parachutists School at Fort Benning, Ga.

In addition to these and other military honors, General Everest has been recognized repeatedly for his contributions to aerospace progress. He was chosen as one of 1955's "Ten Outstanding Young Men" by the U.S. Junior Chamber of Commerce. In 1956 the U.S. Chamber of Commerce named him one of the nation's "Greatest Living Americans." A year later he was awarded both the Harmon Trophy and the Octave Chanute Trophy.




George "Spanky" RobertsColonel George "Spanky" Roberts

Born in London, West Virginia, September 24, 1918, George "Spanky" Roberts attended elementary and high school in Fairmont, W.Va. Graduating in 1934 at age 15 he attended West Virginina State College (now West Virginia University). Graduating from W. Va. State College at age 18 with a B.S. Degree in Mechanic Arts in 1938, he began CPT training in 1939 at W. Va. State.

In 1941 he entered military service as first Negro Aviation Cadet, and graduated in first in his class of five Cadets on March 7, 1942.

George S. "Spanky" Roberts was among the first African-Americans selected for pilot training at the famed Tuskegee Army Airfield . He commanded a fighter squadron and flew 78 combat missions over Europe in the Second World War. Upon retirement from the Air Force in 1968, Roberts embarked upon a second career as a banker for Wells Fargo.

David Tork

Dave Tork

David ("Dave") Tork (born 25 August 1934) is retired male pole vaulter from the United States. He set his personal best (5.08 metres) in the event on 27 June 1964 at a meet in Brunswick.

In 2008 the Fairmont native who established a world record in the pole vault back in 1962, was inducted into the National Pole Vault Hall of Fame.

Francis H. Pierpont

Francis H. Pierpont

Governor of Restored Virginia (1861-1868) and the Father of West Virginia Francis Harrison Pierpont (1814-1899) was chosen by the citizens of West Virginia as their greatest hero and "The Father of West Virginia". His statue stands in Statuary Hall of the United States Capitol in Washington D.C. The program of the Pierpont Statue Unveiling on April 30th, 1910, contained the following poem dedicated to the life and work of Francis H. Pierpont:

You are standing midst the mighty in the Great White Hall of Fame;
On the Nation's list of heroes they have written high your name,
And the powers and princes pass you and they give you meed of praise
But 'twas Freedom you were wooing, and not Fame, in those dark days.

Filled with manhood's high ideals, by a slave-block you stood near,
Watched the virgin crouching on it, saw her trembling, felt her fear,
And your spirit rose within you, as one led the maid away,
And you gave yourself to freedom - life and soul and strength - that day.

When the loud alarm of battle flung a challenge to the North,
Home and childish hands clung to you, but your country called you forth;
On the strong God lays the burden when He makes a people free,
And on hearts that are most tender doth He write His stern decree.

In the shout and din of battle she was born, the brave free State;
Humble men stood sponsor for her, but their every deed was great -
West Virginia, child of Freedom! Many a brave man's life was given
Ere the chains with which foul slavery sought to hold you could be riven.

But it must be, up in Heaven, that the holy angels know
Of the struggles and the triumphs of those toiling here below;
And men's hearts were moved to action, so they placed you, Statesmen, there,
That the world might know and feel it, what is wrought by work and prayer.

When Virginia succeeded from the Union in 1861, Pierpont was elected the Governor of Restored Virginia and the recognized Governor of Virginia by the Union. The Capitol was in Wheeling, Va. When the Civil War ended in 1865, he and his family moved to Richmond, Va where he remained governor until 1868.

As western Virginia wanted to become its own state, Francis H. Pierpont wrote the following to President Lincoln:

Wheeling, VA., Dec. 31, 1862

President Lincoln:

I am in hopes you will sign the bill to make West Virginia a new State. The loyal people of the State have their hearts set on it. The soldiers in the army have their hearts set on it. If the bill fails, God only knows the result. I fear general demoralization. I am clear, the consequence is in your hands.

F.H. Pierpont, Gov.

President Lincoln and Francis Pierpont were friends and often corresponded. These letters can be seen at the West Virginia University Archives.

Pierpont was leading member of the Methodist Protestant Church. In 1869. The First National negotiations to reunite the two branches of the Methodist Church divided by the slavery issue were hosted by the congregation and Fairmont under his leadership. The Methodist Churches were United at a Baltimore meeting in 1877. At this meeting Pierpont was name President of the Conference of the Methodist Protestant Church (a national office). He was the first layman to ever hold a National Office in the Church.

Francis H. Pierpont also believed in free education for all and began programs throughout. The initial education was integrated for all including females and the recently freed slaves. Segregation did not happen in West Virginia until 1876. In 1865 Fairmont Normal (Teacher's Training) now known as Fairmont State University began in the basement of the Methodist Protest Church in Fairmont. This Church was also known as the "Pierpont Church" as Francis 'father donated the land for the building on Quincy Street in 1833. This church was also known as "The Church On The Hill"

In 1868, the Pierpont family returned to Fairmont and resided in a house on Quincy Street. Francis and Julie Pierpont and three of their four children are buried in Woodlawn Cemetery also located in Fairmont.

Frank Gatski

Frank Gatski

Frank Gatski (March 18, 1919 - November 22, 2005) was an American football player. Gatski was born on March 18, 1919 in Farmington, West Virginia. Gatski attended Marshall University and Auburn University and played as a center and linebacker.

In the 1940s and 1950s he played center for the NFL teams Cleveland Browns (1946-56) and Detroit Lions (1957). In 12 seasons, Gatski's teams played for the league title 11 times. After his playing career, he was a scout for the Boston Patriots and coach for the West Virginia Industrial School for Boys from 1961 to 1982.

He was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1985, in a class that included Joe Namath, Pete Rozelle, O.J. Simpson, and Roger Staubach. Marshall University retired Gatski's number, #72, on October 15, 2005 during their homecoming game against the University of Alabama at Birmingham, the first Marshall football player to be so honored.

Gatski died on November 22, 2005 in Morgantown, West Virginia. On November 18, 2006 in Huntington, WV, the East End Bridge was renamed the Frank Gatski Memorial Bridge during halftime of the Marshall-UTEP football game.

Fred Martin Torrey

Sculptor Fred Martin Torrey, born in Fairmont, July 29, 1884, specialized in depictions of Abraham Lincoln. Educated in the Fairmont schools, Torrey left West Virginia in 1909 to enroll at the Art Institute of Chicago. He studied there with the renowned sculptor Lorado Taft. Torrey met his wife, Mabel Landrum Torrey, also a sculptor, at the Institute.

Fred Torrey's designed this statue of Abraham Lincoln in the late 1930's. This was his favorite of all his works and the only display of artistry in his home state of West Virginia. His sculpture is based on Vachel Lindsay's poem "Lincoln Walks at Midnight", and depicts Lincoln pacing at night in a robe, under the strain of a nation torn apart by war. Some historians credit Lincoln with uniting the divided country, while others say Lincoln's harsh stand against states rights was the cause of the War Between the States. Torrey's 42-inch plaster model of the statue was exhibited in the 1939-40 New York World's Fair. Torrey died on July 8, 1967 without completing the statue in bronze. Charleston sculptor Bernie Wiepper was contracted to reproduce this nine-and-one-half-foot sculpture from the original model, and it now stands in front of the West Virginia State Capitol. However, West Virginia almost lost this striking statue to other states. One of the mayors felt this statue belonged in West Virginia as we were born of the session of Virginia during the Civil War in 1963. First approached was the state legislature for the funding. They were not interested. Next the State Superintendent of Schools was approached as having the students all over the state contribute a dime for the project. He declined. After approaching many organizations, the Jounalist Class at Fairmont Senior High School started the ball rolling by having a dance and bake sale to help finance the project. An artist is rarely appreciated in his own state.

Torrey sculpted other historic figures as well, including Stephen Douglas, George Washington, and George Washington Carver. One of his last works was a 1965 bust of John F. Kennedy. Torrey died in Ames, Iowa, July 8, 1967.

Raymond "Fuzzy" Knight

Fuzzy Knight

Raymond "Fuzzy" Knight was born in Fairmont, West Virginia on May 9, 1901, and was the third child and son of James A. and Olive Knight.He attended nearby West Virginia University where he was a cheerleader and law student. He wrote a pep song, "Fight Mountaineers,"which is still used by the Mountaineer Marching Band almost 100 years later. He also wrote the melody for a WVU song entitled "To Thee Our Alma Mater," with words by fellow graduate David A. Christopher. He formed his own band in college and was a member of the Sigma Nu Fraternity as well as the head cheerleader. After graduation he headed for New York to act in vaudeville and played in big bands such as Irving Aaronson's and George Olsen's Eventually his musical and comedy skills in New York, had him appeared in Earl Carroll's Vanities of 1927 and on Broadway in Here's Howe and Ned Wayburn's Gambols. He was billed under his nickname, Fuzzy.

While touring with bands, Knight came to Hollywood and appeared in several musical short films for MGM and Paramount between 1929 and 1932 Mae West gave him his first notable film role in She Done Him Wrong, and he went on to play in hundreds of films over the next 30 years. By the 1940s, he was primarily playing in Western movies and was voted on of the Top Ten Money-Making Stars in Westerns in 1940. He is most famous for his protrayal of Tater in the 1939 Oscar nominated movie, The Trail of Lonesome Pine. He also sang title song from this movie which was also nominated for an Oscar. His plaintive song in the grave scene has been claimed by many as being one of the most heartrendering emotional scenes in motion picture history.

Knight became famous to a new generation when he co-starred as Buster Crabbe's sidekick on the 1955 TV series Captain Gallant of the Foreign Legion.[ In semi-retirement thereafter, Knight continued to make occasional appearances in films and TV shows through 1967. In all he appeared in almost 200 movies before his death in California on February 23, 1976. He lies in an unmarked grave in Hollywood. His family home is still occupied in Fairmont, WV.

Hershel Woodrow "Woody" Williams

Hershel W. Williams

Hershel Woodrow "Woody" Williams (born October 2, 1923) is a retired United States Marine who received the Medal of Honor for his actions in the Battle of Iwo Jima during World War II.

Born in Fairmont, West Virginia, on October 2, 1923, Williams grew up on a dairy farm in nearby Quiet Dell. He worked a series of odd jobs in the area, including as a truck driver for W.S. Harr Construction Company of Fairmont and as a taxi driver. After being turned away once from the U.S. military for being too short, he successfully enlisted in the Marine Corps Reserve in Charleston, West Virginia, on May 26, 1943.

Williams received his recruit training at the Marine Corps Recruit Depot San Diego, California. Upon completion, he was sent to the Camp Elliott training center in San Diego, where he joined the tank training battalion on August 21, 1943. Williams joined the 32nd Replacement Battalion on October 30, 1943, and left for New Caledonia in the southwest Pacific on December 3 aboard the M.S. Weltey Reden.

In January 1944, he joined the 3rd Marine Division at Guadalcanal. He was attached to the 1st Battalion, 21st Marines, first to Company C and then to Headquarters Company. During July and August 1944, he participated in action against the Japanese at Guam, and in October he rejoined Company C.

His next campaign was at Iwo Jima where he distinguished himself with actions "above and beyond the call of duty" — for which he would be awarded the Medal of Honor. Landing on February 21, 1945, Williams, by then a corporal, distinguished himself two days later when American tanks, trying to open a lane for infantry, encountered a network of reinforced concrete pillboxes, buried mines, and black volcanic sands. Williams went forward alone with his 70-pound (32 kg) flamethrower to attempt the reduction of devastating machine gun fire from the unyielding positions.

Covered by only four riflemen, he fought for four hours under terrific enemy small-arms fire and repeatedly returned to his own lines to prepare demolition charges and obtain serviced flame throwers. He returned to the front, frequently to the rear of hostile emplacements, to wipe out one position after another.

He fought through the remainder of the five-week-long battle and was wounded on March 6, for which he was awarded the Purple Heart. In September 1945, he returned to the United States, and on the October 1, he joined Marine Corps Headquarters in Washington, D.C. He was presented the Medal of Honor by President Harry S. Truman on October 5, 1945, at the White House.

Joe Cerisano

Joe Cerisano

Joe Cerisano, (born March 28, 1951, in Marion County), is an American singer, songwriter, record producer and President of Outta' the Woods Records. He is often referred to as "possibly the most famous anonymous singer in America".

In the mid 1980's, Cerisano's music career began to evolve into his becoming one of the most successful studio session singers in the United States. His commercial work in television and radio singing includes spots for Coca-Cola, Chrysler/Plymouth, General Electric, Miller Beer, the United States Army, the United States Navy and numerous others.

Travelling to the west coast in the early 80's, Joe formed the now legendary California rock band Silver Condor with guitarist Earl Slick (i.e. David Bowie and John Lennon) on Columbia Records. In 1981 Silver Condor had the Top 40 hit "You Could Take My Heart Away." He also was the singer of the song "Hands Across America" which still plays on MTV, and was one of the lead vocalist on the1998 platinum selling Christmas Album - The Christmas Attic. He has sung from some of the biggest names in the industry from Bo Duddly to Korn.

John Knowles

John Knowles

John Knowles (September 16, 1926 - November 29, 2001) was an American novelist best known for his novel A Separate Peace. Knowles was born in Fairmont, West Virginia, the son of James M. Knowles, a purchasing agent from Lowell, Massachusetts, and Mary Beatrice Shea Knowles from Concord, New Hampshire.

In his home town, Knowles’ father was the vice president of a coal company and fortunately, they received a steady income and were able to live a good life. He attended St. Peter's High School in Fairmont, West Virginia from 1940 until 1942, before continuing at Phillips Exeter Academy in Exeter, New Hampshire, graduating in 1945.

A Separate Peace is based upon Knowles' experiences at Phillips Exeter Academy. The setting for The Devon Woolbert School is a thinly veiled fictionalization of Phillips Exeter Academy. The plot should not be taken as autobiographical, although many elements of the novel stem from personal experience, including Knowles' membership in a secret society and sustaining of a foot injury while jumping from a tree during society exercises. In his essay, "A Special Time, A Special Place," Knowles wrote:

"The only elements in A Separate Peace which were not in that summer were anger, violence, and hatred. There was only friendship, character, athleticism, and honor."

A Separate Peace was first published in London by Secker and Warburg in 1959. The novel was published in New York in 1960 by Macmillan. Knowles' other significant works are Morning in Antibes, Double Vision: American Thoughts Abroad, Indian Summer, The Paragon, and Peace Breaks Out. .

As a resident of Southampton, New York, Knowles wrote seven novels, a book on travel and a collection of stories. He was the winner of the William Faulkner Award and the Rosenthal Award shinguard of the National Institute of Arts and Letters. In his later years, Knowles lectured to university audiences.

Knowles died in 2001, at the age of 75, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Johnnie Johnson "The Father of Rock and Roll"

Johnnie Johnson

Johnnie graduated from Dunbar School in Fairmont and formed his own band. After WWII, Johnson formed a blues band called the Johnie Johnson Trio whose regular gig was in the Cosmopolitan Club, one of the largest in St. Louis.

In 1952 he hired a fledgling guitarist and singer named Chuck Berry. In 1955 the band recorded the hit song "Maybellene". Both agreed for Berry to take over the group. The first writing and performing duo in history of Rock and Roll was born with Johnson writing the music and Berry writing the words. Some of their songs were "Roll Over Beethoven", "Sweet Little Sixteen" and "Rock and Roll Music".

Their song, "Johnny B. Goode" is considered by many to be the national anthem of Rock and the only Rock song included in a sample of the world's greatest music in NASA's space capsule.

When Berry decided to travel internationally in 1973, Berry elected to remain in St. Louis. In 1998 he received the patent for the title "Father of Rock &Roll" and Congressional Citation from the U.S. House of Representives in 1999. He received the Pioneer Award from the Rhythm and Blues Foundation in 2000 and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 2001.

Also see the Johnie Johnson Blues & Jazz Society ...

 

Julia Augusta Robertson Pierpont

Julia Augusta Robertson Pierpont

Julia Pierpont of Fairmont, WV, is credited with being an originator of the nation's Decoration Day (renamed Memorial Day in 1882).

A native of Dryden, New York, Julia Pierpont married Francis H. Pierpont of Fairmont, Va, who served as the Governor of Restored Virginia during and after the Civil War (1861-1868). Gov. Pierpont was recognized "the Father of West Virginia".

During their stay in the Governor's Mansion in Richmond, VA (1865-1868), the family began talking about the horrible condition of the Union soldiers graves. Gov. Pierpont suggested she do something about it. In May 1866, Julia and Miss Woolsey (from New York who was teaching in the schools for the African American children) decided to decorate the graves of the Union soldiers buried in Hollywood, Cemetery overlooking Richmond. Julia, Miss Woolsey, the Pierpont children , with some of Julia's Richmond friends along with the children from the African American schools, their brothers, sisters , and their teachers went to the cemetery to clean and decorate the graves with red, white and blue flowers.

News spread of the event. It met with approval and condemnation. A few weeks later thousands of citizens laden with flowers came from throughout Virginia. Bands played, speeches were given as the Confederate graves were decorated. As the nation heard of these events, more followed suit.

There are records of other Decoration Days prior to and following the one in Virginia, but many historians feel that Julia's Decoration Day inspired General John A. Logan, Commander-in-Chief of the Grand Army of the Republic, on May 5, 1868, declaring May 30th as annual National "Decoration Day" . This day was renamed Memorial Day. The State of West Virginia , The County of Marion and The City of Fairmont have proclaimed Julia Pierpont Day to be on the Saturday before Memorial Day.

In 1868 the Pierponts returned to Fairmont to live. "They lie buried in the family plot in historic Woodlawn Cemetery - Those Fairmonters- Francis who gave Virginia back to the Union, and West Virginia to the nation, and Julia, who gave Memorial Day to us all- the living & dead".

Levi Morgan

Levi Morgan

Levi Morgan born 26 June 1766, in Morgantown, West Virginia was the grandson of the first white settler of West Virginia, Colonel Morgan Morgan. The Colonel was named Morgan Morgan (actually old world style: Morgan ap Morgan or Morgan of Morgan) because he was the son of two Morgan parent . The Colonel was born in Wales in 1688 and died in November, 1766. Levi was born in June, 1766. The assumption was that Levi never knew his grandfather, only his grandmother, Catherine Garrettson. She died in 1773 when Levi was seven years old.

His grandfather was Colonel Morgan Morgan, a Welshman who is noted for being the first white settler in the hills of West Virginia. Levi never knew his famous grandfather but did know his grandmother. Levi's father, Colonel Zackquill Morgan, was a very prominent man who had the friendship of George Washington as well as others. The Morgans were merchants and wealthy landowners. Levi grew up around the Delaware Indians and spoke their language, but that did not keep him from siding with the whites. He took part in many Indian wars including one in Marion County, West Virginia.

Levi participated in many great battles and was also a Captain at Fort Paw Paw in Marion County, West Virginia. In November of 1791, Levi was with General St Clair when he was defeated by the Indians. Over 600 of the 1,400 General Harmer men were killed and 271 wounded.

Levi was fifty-nine when he died, found frozen to death in Kentucky; a sad end for an epic life. A statue to Levi Morgan stands in the mid Ohio valley town of New Martinsville, Wetzel County, West Virginia.

Leyna Gabriele

Leyna  Gabriele

Born in West Virginia, and an honored alumnus of Fairmont State University ('44), Leyna has nonetheless spent most of her life in New York. Despite a substantial career as a coloratura lyric soprano, which included a 1950 Fulbright Foundation-supported stint in Italy, an appearance as the Queen of the Night in a 1954 Magic Flute broadcast, and a 1958 Town Hall recital, Leyna is also well-known as the co-proprietor, along with her late husband, Vito Pisa, of Chez Vito. Originally on West 58th and later on East 60th, Chez Vito was an intimate supper club where strolling Hungarian violinists and singers (including Leyna) serenaded diners at candlelit tables. It became a favorite of Met stars Cesare Valletti, Fernando Corena and Cesare Siepi among others. Since Chez Vito's closing in 1973, Leyna has taught opera workshops for Princeton and SUNY Purchase, and has cultivated a roster of students who are populating opera stages on three continents.

Whether in her own performances, or in her teaching, Leyna places maximum emphasis on the integrity of the libretto and on letting the text imbue the music. Of her, one writer has written, "Leyna's gift is more than diction: it is…great musical diction. She shapes, displays and enhances the music with the words not by gestures or emotional illustration, but by deliberate choices of syllabic emphasis and length, tiny pauses (not for breathing), vowel position, and color."

In addition to the excerpts from her 1956 performance of Baby Doe at Central City that are on this website, an animated YouTube recording of the modern-English-language Violetta that she developed along with acting teacher Walt Witcover, and which "was a revelation to audience members and critics alike" is also not to be missed.

Mary Lou Retton

Mary Lou Retton

Mary Lou Retton (born January 24, 1968, in Fairmont, WV) is an Italian-American gymnast and Olympic gold medalist. She was the first female gymnast from outside Eastern Europe to win the Olympic all-around title. She competed in the Olympic games during her sophomore year at Fairmont Senior High School.

Inspired by watching Nadia Comaneci on television, Retton took up gymnastics in her hometown of Fairmont. She was coached by Gary Rafaloski. She then decided to move to Houston, Texas, to train under Romanians Béla and Márta Károlyi, who had coached Nadia Comaneci before their defection to the United States. Under the Károlyis, Retton soon began to make a name for herself in the United States, winning the American Cup in 1983 and placing second to Dianne Durham (another Károlyi student) at the US Nationals that same year. Retton missed the World Championships in 1983 due to a wrist injury. Nevertheless, Retton won the American Classic in 1983 and 1984, as well as Japan's Chunichi Cup in 1983.

At the 1984 Summer Olympics, Retton , scored perfect 10s on floor exercise and vault to win the all-around title. In addition she won four additional medals:4: silver in the team competition and the horse vault, and bronze in the floor exercise and uneven bars. For her performance, she was named Sports Illustrated magazine's "Sportswoman of the Year". She appeared on a Wheaties box, and became the cereal's first official spokeswoman. Retton delivered the Pledge of Allegiance with fellow former gymnast and 1996 Olympic gold medalist Kerri Strug on the second night of the 2004 Republican National Convention.

She retired from gymnastics after winning an unprecedented third American Cup title in 1985.

Colonel Morgan Morgan

Colonel Morgan Morgan (November 1, 1688 — November 17, 1766) is traditionally believed to have founded the first permanent white settlement in present day West Virginia at Cool Spring Farm, and he is credited with founding the first church in what is now West Virginia.

Morgan had eight children by his wife, the former Catherine Garretson. One son, David Morgan, became famous as an Indian fighter due to an encounter with Delaware natives at his homestead. David developed the area now known as Fairmont, West Virginia. Another son, Zackquill, founded Morgantown, West Virginia. Francis Harrison Pierpont, governor of Virginia and later West Virginia, was a descendant of Colonel Morgan. Morgan Morgan held military and civil positions in colonial Virginia which entitled his female descendants to membership in the Colonial Dames of America. In addition to settling West Virginia, Morgan's descendants founded Marion County, Fairmont and Morgantown.

Rose Agnes Rolls Cousins

Rose Cousins

Aviator Rose Agnes Rolls Cousins was the first woman to become a solo pilot in thr Civilian Pilot Training Program at West Virginia State College (now West Virginia University). While growing up in Fairmont, West Virginia she was interested in 'boy' things and competed with her brother. Entering college at 16, she majored in Business Administration, but association with the pilot's program rekindled a childhood desire to fly. In 1940, she learned to fl, reportedly telling the instructor, "I'll just put my hair up and you can pretend I'm a man." In an open cockpit Rose learned to put the plain tito a spin, fly upside down, and land with the engine off. In order to qualify for a license, she completed a cross-country flight alone, guided only by sight and a compass.

In 1941 she went to Tuskegee Institute with their first group of ten male students from West Virginia State College to try out for the Air Force Training Program for black combat pilots. She was rejected because of her sex, returning to West Virginia she was employed for a time at West Virginia State College.

Rose eventually returned to Fairmont to care for her parents and spent the majority of her working life at Fairmont Clinic, where she became manager of medical records. She later moved to her daughter's home in Washington D.C. where she died. Though she found little opportunity to use her flying skills, Rose Cousin is remembered for her courage and tenacity in choosing to become a pilot.

Robert Lee Huff (A.K.A. Sam Huff)

Robert Lee Huff

Sam Huff , a native of Farmington (Marion County), was born on October 4. 1924. He was recruited from Farmington High School by West Virginia University and became one of the super-stars during the University's second "Golden Era". In his senior year Huff received high ranking on five All-American selections. Tthe 1955 co-captain was named first team All-America by the NEA Service, Look Magazine, Jet Magazine and NBC-TV. Huff earned third-team All-America honors from UPI. He also earned first team Academic All-America honors for his work in the classroom as well.

After being selected to play in the North-South Game, the Senior Bowl and the College Football All-Star Game played in Chicago, Huff was drafted in the third round by the New York Giants. Playing eight years with the Giants, Huff became an instant star in the Big Apple for his physical style of play. Huff earned five all-pro berths and developed a great personal rivalry with Ray Nitschke of the Green Bay Packers and Jim Brown of the Cleveland Browns. It was Huff who was one of the very few NFL linebackers who could tackle the all-pro Brown in the open field. Huff was the first NFL player to be featured on the cover of Time magazine, and was also the subject of a CBS network TV show titled "The Violent World of Sam Huff."

Playing his last four seasons with the Washington Redskins, Huff culminated his 12-year NFL career with one NFL championship ring and five division titles. After retiring, Huff began a career as a broadcaster for the Washington Redskins radio network. He later was a broadcaster for a regionally syndicated TV package of Mountaineer football games in the mid-1980s. In 1982, Huff became just the second WVU player to be inducted into both the college and pro football Halls of Fame.

Sam Jones

Sam Jones

Although born in Ohio, Sam Jones grew up grew up in Grant Town and Monongah, West Virginia, where he actually didn't play much baseball as a kid. He went to Dunbar High School. While in the Army Air Corps in World War II, an officer recruited Jones for the camp baseball team, and he was a natural pitcher.

While a young man, Jones started a habit of keeping a toothpick in his mouth, and as a pitcher he continued to do so, earning his nickname.

Known as "Toothpick" this "Sad Sam", Jones pitched in both leagues and had some very good years. For the Cleveland Indians in 1952 he and Quincy Trouppe formed the first black battery in the American League. In all, Jones pitched in the Majors for the Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals, Detroit Tigers, San Francisco Giants and Baltimore Orioles

Sam Jones pitched a no-hitter against the Pirates on May 12, 1955. It was the first no-hitter by an African American in the Major Leagues. He walked the bases loaded in the ninth and then struck out Dick Groat, Roberto Clemente and Frank Thomas to complete the no-hit game. He walked seven in the game. The achievement earned him a golden toothpick..It was the first no-hit in Wrigley Field since Hippo Vaughn threw nine hitless innings against Fred Toney of the Reds in 1917. This was the only game where two pitchers have pitched nine no hit innings each.

Jones also set the modern, major league record for walks that year, while leading the league in hit batsmen. Stan Musial and his battery mate, Hobie Landrith of the Cubs, considered his curveball to be one of the best of all time. His wicked curveball, combined with a good fastball and consistent wildness, kept batters from getting too comfortable in the batter's box.

He pitched a one-hitter on June 15, 1959. On September 26, 1959, Jones had a no-hitter through seven innings, but rain stopped that game, so he did not get credit for a no-hitter.

Three times Jones led the league in strikeouts, and four times he led the league in walks. In 1959, he led the NL in wins with 21 and an ERA of 2.83. Jones died at age 45 in 1971 in Morgantown, WV, of lung cancer. He is buried in Woodlawn Cemetery. Check out Jones's stats at Baseball-Reference.com.

Waitman T. Willey

Waitman T. Willey

Waitman T. Willey was a delegate to the Virginia Constitutional Convention of 1850-1851, a delegate to the Virginia Convention of 1861 that voted to secede from the Union, a United States senator from the Restored government of Virginia (1861-1863), and, alongside Peter G. Van Winkle, one of the first two United States senators from West Virginia (1863-1871). A native of western Virginia, he was instrumental in the formation of the new state of West Virginia during the American Civil War (1861-1865). As a member of the U.S. Senate, he authored the Willey Amendment in 1863—a compromise on the question of the freedom of the state's African Americans that extinguished his hopes for compensated emancipation. Instead, it decreed that slaves younger than twenty-one years old on July 4, 1863, would become free once they reached that age. The compromise assured West Virginia's acceptance into the Union.