(R) Tyler County
Elected governor in 1956
Cecil Harland Underwood
November 5, 1922 - November 24, 2008
(R) Cabell County
Elected governor in 1996
In his first term as governor, Underwood worked to improve roads and assist those impoverished by rapid technological changes, particularly the mechanization of the coal industry. His administration developed a temporary employment program to provide relief to poor families. In Underwood's first year in office, the legislature created the Mental Health Department. He also promoted a sweeping revision of the mining laws and the need for local support of public schools.
Underwood was defeated for the United States Senate in 1960 and for governor in 1964 and 1976. He lost the Republican nomination for governor in 1968. After leaving office, Underwood worked for Island Creek Coal Company and Monsanto Chemical Company and formed a land development company. He was named president of Bethany College in 1972 and was formally appointed on September 12, 1973. Later, he became involved with the Software Valley Corporation in Morgantown and taught political science at Marshall University.
In 1996, Underwood defeated Democrat Charlotte Pritt to become the state's oldest governor, forty years after being the state's youngest executive. In a 2000 bid for re-election, he was defeated by Bob Wise. Cecil Harland Underwood died in Charleston on November 24, 2008.
Finding Aid, Cecil H. Underwood Collection (Ar1803)
Finding Aid, Cecil H. Underwood Photograph Collection (Ph87-124)
Finding Aid, Cecil H. Underwood Gubernatorial Papers (1997-2001)
West Virginia's Governors
West Virginia History Center