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Meet
West Virginia's
History Heroes
For 2012

What is a History Hero?


Richard Bailey is secretary, publicity chairman, and member of the board of directors of the West Virginia State CCC Museum Association. He created and developed the CCC Hall of Fame project to honor those who contributed to the work of the CCC and has interviewed former CCC men for the Hall of Fame, as well as the families of deceased CCC men. In addition to providing pictures and articles for the association’s Web site, he has written articles for publications such as the CCC Legacy Journal and Goldenseal. In 2011, Bailey worked on the float for the West Virginia Forest Festival Parade in Elkins, spoke at the Mountain State Heritage Exposition in Fairmont, and represented the group at the Association for Living History, Farm and Agricultural Museums at Jackson’s Mill.
Nominated by West Virginia State CCC Museum Association

Russell E. Bennett Jr. is preserving the memory of Fayette and Raleigh county veterans by obtaining and setting veteran markers. A past adjutant of Camp Captain P. J. Thurmond, Sons of Confederate Veterans, he worked with local leaders and Thurmond family descendants to have a headstone installed at Capt. Thurmond’s grave in May 2011 and also obtained a headstone for the grave of one of his lieutenants. Bennett began memorializing veterans in 2008 and has obtained approximately 50 markers for Revolutionary, Civil War, World War I, and World War II veterans’ graves.
Nominated by Fayette and Raleigh Counties Genealogy Society

John Robert Bills has worked with a team from the Pleasants County Historical Society to restore and preserve neglected and abandoned cemeteries and to install military markers on the unmarked graves of veterans. He has performed concrete, stone, and masonry work in setting headstones and building memorials, including the design and construction of a memorial on the Ohio River’s Middle Island to mark the location of the Larue Family Cemetery. Bills also volunteered to re-roof and repair windows to preserve a historical harness shop used by the society, and he performs annual maintenance and mowing of the historical St. John’s Episcopal Cemetery.
Nominated by Pleasants County Historical Society

Together, historian Stan Bumgardner and radio journalist John T. “Trey” Kay III researched, wrote, and produced the radio documentary The Great Textbook War about the 1974 Kanawha County textbook controversy. The audio premiere in 2009 was accompanied by a large 4-panel exhibit of photographs and newspaper articles and an audio-visual component. The traveling exhibit has visited campuses and libraries throughout the northeast, including most of West Virginia. The documentary was awarded the George Foster Peabody Award, the 2010 National Edward R. Murrow Award, and the Alfred I. DuPont Award Silver Baton. Bumgardner also is a director of the Kanawha Valley Historical and Preservation Society.
Nominated by Kanawha Valley Historical and Preservation Society, Inc.

Karen Burdette is chair of the Clay County Landmarks Commission and Historical Society’s standing committee on cemeteries and has spent the past three years collecting information, contacting individual families, locating and documenting more than 250 previously undocumented cemeteries, researching county records, taking pictures, and compiling and typing data. She has been responsible for the layout and design of the in-house publication Clay County Cemeteries—Fourth Edition (2011) and also has been involved with advertising and distribution. Her enthusiasm is contagious and her work ethic is outstanding and influences others to do the same quality work.
Nominated by Clay County Landmarks Commission and Historical Society

Esther Carroll has been involved with the New Era One Room School Museum for 20 years. She helped research, dismantle, move, and rebuild the school and has held various offices in the past two decades, including her current positions of volunteer director and secretary-treasurer. Volunteering more than 1,000 hours annually, Esther archives photos and artifacts into an electronic database and co-hosts more than 600 school children each year. She created a video history of the school and also edited an activity/coloring book. In addition, Esther operates the Web site and is involved with fundraisers, grant writing, and presentations to local organizations. The retired teacher/librarian also is a member of the Wood County Historical and Preservation Society and the West Virginia Association of Museums.
Nominated by Living Heritage Museum/New Era One Room School

A lifelong resident of Mineral County, Gary Lee Clites Sr. has compiled numerous documents and files on historical sites and events with a special focus on the Ridgeley and Carpendale communities. He led the research on the site of the 1750 fortified storehouse Fort Ohio and spoke at the dedication of a highway historical marker in 2007. He has written several news articles and is the author of the book Ridgeley and Carpendale, West Virginia from 1750: A History (2008). Clites also is vice president of the Frankfort District Historical Society, Inc., and works to maintain and preserve the society’s historic Stewart’s Tavern in Short Gap, serving as historian and archivist of events held at the building.
Nominated by Mineral County Historical Society, Inc.

Jim Cook is a founding member of the Wyoming County Historical Museum and has held the office of secretary for more than two years. He serves on the historical sites and budget committees and maintains the museum’s Web site. Jim also has a talent for organizing and displaying exhibits. He spearheaded efforts to write a book about the 100th anniversary of his church and also is involved with efforts to write about Oceana High School. In addition, he and his wife created a Web site on Wyoming County history and genealogy.
Nominated by Wyoming County Historical Museum

Robert R. Cordell is a “one man speaker’s bureau” whose many presentations over the years on an assortment of historical topics is unparalleled. A retired professor from West Virginia University at Parkersburg, his lecture series at two local libraries as well as programs for local history groups in observance of the 150th anniversary of the American Civil War represent significant work and contributions to the preservation and dissemination of our state’s and nation’s history. Bob has provided historical programs for the Blennerhassett Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, for many years and he also serves as a judge for the statewide DAR Good Citizens essay contest.
Nominated by Blennerhassett Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution

Billy Lynn Cunningham is a pioneer of Internet genealogy. When the WVGenWeb Project began in 1996, he became the county coordinator for Wetzel County, and since then he has helped people around the world research their Wetzel County families. He has compiled abundant genealogical information, provided tombstone transcriptions for most county cemeteries, and photographed countless gravestones. Bill also has taught computer skills to many people. His contribution to the preservation of Wetzel County’s history and genealogy is extensive, and he shares everything online. Bill is loved, respected, and appreciated by the countless thousands who have benefited from his hard work, expertise, and generosity.
Nominated by Wetzel County WVGenWeb

Loretta Davis has helped Arthurdale Heritage, Inc., succeed since its beginnings in 1985. She designed the AHI logo, was a member of the board of directors for many years, and also served as secretary. An excellent salesperson, Loretta has been instrumental in the growth of the craft shop in the past eight years from a staff of five volunteers and a yearly profit of less than $2,000 to fourteen volunteers and a profit of $5,000-$7,000 a year. Her selection of locally made, quality handcrafted goods reflects Arthurdale’s history of craft work, and the monies raised help AHI tell the story of Eleanor Roosevelt, the New Deal, and Arthurdale to its visitors.
Nominated by Arthurdale Heritage, Inc.

Page Dickson has been the backbone of the Greenbrier Historical Society for more than 30 years. An avid student of Greenbrier Valley history, she began to educate herself about local artifacts after moving to the area in 1957. Page has helped guide the society in the identification, acquisition, and preservation of artifacts highlighting the valley’s history. She has been a member of the board of directors since the 1980s and also is a current member of the personnel and North House committees. Over the years, she has volunteered as tour guide, worked on fundraising committees, and served as vice president of the museums and chair of the North House committees.
Nominated by Greenbrier Historical Society

Charleston attorney Katherine Dooley has worked tirelessly for nearly ten years with the J. R. Clifford Project to bring West Virginia’s African American and civil rights history to citizens across the state. She has led dozens of programs, telling the story of how African Americans have worked for justice and achievement in West Virginia. Dooley has given particular attention to the history of African American attorneys, and her work with the J. R. Clifford Project has led to numerous research projects, publications, and maps. She also has encouraged participation in the “Your Voice in History” oral history project of the West Virginia Center for African-American Art & Culture and is co-director of the play “A New Home for Liberty.”
Nominated by West Virginia Center for African-American Art & Culture, Inc.

Anne Hazlett Foreman is an award winning artist whose work depicts many historical scenes and the lives of everyday West Virginians. An active member of the Wheeling Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, her entry in the Constitution Week poster contest won first place at both the state and national levels. Anne has contributed her artwork to raise funds for various Wheeling Chapter historic preservation projects. In addition, her murals adorn the historic Wheeling Market House and the Fort Henry Room at Oglebay Park’s Wilson Lodge, and she has provided illustrations for historical books and Ft. Henry Days living history.
Nominated by Wheeling Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution

A retired professor at Marshall University, David Harris helps the Carter G. Woodson Memorial Foundation tell the historical stories and contributions of West Virginia’s African American leaders, such as Carter G. Woodson and Memphis Tennessee Garrison. He is a member of the scholarship committee that annually selects a high school or college student of history or education to receive a scholarship from the foundation. Harris also is treasurer and serves on the banquet committee, and he assists with fundraising projects, among them the Woodson statue that was erected in Huntington in 1995 and current efforts to preserve the Garrison house.
Nominated by Carter G. Woodson Memorial Foundation, Inc.

Bill K. Hissam is a current member of the Tyler County Museum board of directors and has donated much time and labor to make the museum property presentable by mowing the lawn on the property and taking care of mowing and weeding in the nearby Stealey Cemetery. He also has given much time to the upkeep of the museum building, fixing leaks on the roof and performing other work in the 100-plus year old former school.
Nominated by Tyler County Museum

Lou Horacek, assistant director of the Ohio County Public Library (1995-2011), almost single handedly developed and maintained the archives, special collections, and online historical collections of the Ohio County Public Library. He has gone beyond the call of duty working quietly behind the scenes to bring large portions of those collections into the 21st century, scanning and cataloging hundreds of historic images and creating the library’s “History On-Line” feature. Through his efforts, primary source documents related to local, regional, and state history are now instantly available on the Web to researchers around the world. He also helped revive interest in an early Wheeling novel, Hearts of Gold by J. McHenry Jones.
Nominated by Ohio County Public Library

Lois Huffman, a longtime member of the Pendleton County Historical Society board of directors, was a leader in the recent project to establish the Boggs House Museum. She is the museum publicist and a volunteer at openings, and she has played a key role in the ongoing project to photograph, document, and record artifacts. Contributors to the society’s County Grave Register, Lois and her husband Wayne (a 2002 History Hero) located and recorded cemeteries in the Bland Hills, Fort Seybert, and Brandywine areas. They also maintain a cemetery on the North Fork. Lois is a genealogist and has been president of her family reunion group.
Nominated by Pendleton County Historical Society

Since 2000, folklife documentarians Carrie and Michael Kline have created seven audio history CDs that illustrate the many historical aspects of the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike. The CDs, with people talking about their memories, have created a sense of pride in local history and also have helped the Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Alliance be self-sustainable through the sales. The Klines donated all the collected interviews for the permanent archives in Beverly, where they are available to researchers. They currently are teaching traditional folk music and regional songs to young people in Randolph County schools and also teach how to record oral histories at the Augusta Heritage Center.
Nominated by Staunton-Parkersburg Turnpike Alliance

Linda L. Cottrell Liss has been an active member of the Roane County Historical Society for several years and currently serves as membership and corresponding secretary. She initiated and carried out restoration and recording of the 1840-1881 historic Cottrell Family Cemetery and photo recorded the Swank Cemetery. She writes articles about RCHS activities for the society’s Web site and newsletter and also for the county newspaper. Linda also performs inquiry research for the society and is chairperson of the annual essay scholarship committee. Among other efforts, she designed and edited a walking tour brochure highlighting historic buildings in Spencer and compiled a booklet on the subject for the society’s library.
Nominated by Roane County Historical Society, Inc.

A charter member of the Ebenezer Zane Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution, George Edward Livingston has served as president (2003-2004), genealogist (2005-present), and historian (2005-present). He continues to research, document, and preserve the memory of Revolutionary War ancestors in the Northern Panhandle. He has assisted in placing more than sixty markers on the graves of veterans of the American Revolution and has participated with the Color Guard at grave dedications. He spearheaded the design and funding of a marker in Weirton’s Veterans Memorial Park and led the effort to have a Revolutionary War memorial service in Weirton in April 2011.
Nominated by Ebenezer Zane Chapter, Sons of the American Revolution

Carole Menefee is regent of the Elizabeth Beauchamp Chapter, Daughters of American Pioneers, and is devoted to the Beauchamp-Newman Museum. She has spent countless hours working to preserve the building and its contents. Menefee is a founding member and chair of the annual Wirt County Pioneer Days, sponsored by the DAP chapter, and works to make sure the event is successful. She is a member of the Wirt County Historical Society, and she also served on the Wirt County Courthouse Centennial Committee, which organized the celebration of the building’s 100th anniversary in 2011.
Nominated by Wirt County Historical Society

Richard Milam has been vice president of the St. Albans Historical Society for the past six years, and he has been an active member for more than twelve years. He is an integral part of the society’s annual Morgan’s Kitchen Fall Festival, making apple butter and helping with the festival’s many activities. Richard and his wife also volunteer at the annual Christmas homes tour. His knowledge of local history has contributed to numerous articles in the newsletter. A former mayor of St. Albans, he uses his leadership abilities to help the society.
Nominated by St. Albans Historical Society

Betty Packman has been an active member of the Ritchie County Historical Society since 1991 and has been involved in nearly every activity the society has held since then. In addition to helping during open house tours of the Old Stone House Museum and the Pennsboro B&O Railroad Depot, she assisted with the Vendor Days activities for several years. Betty donated the cost of refurbishing the floor in one of the museum rooms, and she has also adopted the dining room in the museum to ensure everything there is in presentable condition. In addition, she is a member of the Ritchie County Historic Landmarks Commission.
Nominated by Ritchie County Historical Society

A talented West Virginia artist, Debbie Richardson has dedicated herself to assisting with the restoration, preservation, and historical interpretation of the Historic Carroll House since joining the Madie Carroll House Preservation Society in 2009. She is a member of the board of directors and a docent, promoting the project through her art. When the preservation society and the Guyandotte Bicentennial Committee needed artwork for the program book Guyandotte 1810-2010 Bicentennial, Richardson donated original artwork. She also served on the bicentennial committee. In 2011, she headed the annual Christmas event and oversaw decorating the historic house.
Nominated by Madie Carroll House Preservation Society, Inc.

Donald Riggs has been a member of the Rowlesburg Area Historical Society for three years and currently serves as vice president. During this time, he has been very active in repairs of the society’s historic building, mowing and upkeep of the road to the Cannon Hill Civil War site, and with community projects. Riggs also has been involved in construction work on the B&O Railroad depot and grant writing.
Nominated by Rowlesburg Area Historical Society

Dustin Stanley has participated in the planning of Guyandotte Civil War Days since 2008 and helps with fundraising and behind-the-scenes efforts. He also assisted with planning of events for the celebration of Guyandotte’s centennial in 2010. He is an active Civil War re-enactor who portrays a Confederate artillery private in Kanawha Artillery Battery D. In 2010, Dustin participated in the re-interment of Confederate Capt. Phillip J. Thurmond in Putnam County. He is a member of the Madie Carroll House Preservation Society and the Guyandotte Improvement and Historical Association, and he also is co-owner of the Haunted and Historic Guyandotte Walking Tours.
Nominated by Guyandotte Civil War Days and Raid on Guyandotte, Inc.

Louise Wherry is chairperson of the American Indian Committee for the Ohio Valley Chapter, Daughters of the American Revolution, and has provided historical programs on American Indian artifacts. She also serves on a committee that is preserving the chapter’s history. Louise is a member of the Pleasants County Historical Society and the Descendants of the French Creek Pioneers, and she has been involved in the purchase and restoration of the French Creek Presbyterian Church. The author of several articles and compiler of information on early inhabitants of the Ohio Valley, she also is assembling information on the Wherry and Huffman families.
Nominated by Ohio Valley Chapter, National Society Daughters of the American Revolution

Ann Wilfong has been a member of Hacker’s Creek Pioneer Descendants since 2005. She is a volunteer at the library and, in addition to having responsibility for various collections, keeps the facility open for evening access on Thursdays. Ann is active in all the group’s fundraising activities, and she currently is spearheading coordination and preparation of the third book on veterans in central West Virginia. She also is helping with a book on former one-room schools in Lewis County.
Nominated by Hacker’s Creek Pioneer Descendants

Kathryne Ann Williams served as vice president and membership chair of the Beckley Woman’s Club during its centennial year in 2009-2010. She was instrumental in educating the public about the varied activities of the group over the years, revealing the history of many local services and organizations, including the public library and the YMCA, and their original ties to the work of club members. Kathryne has been a tireless worker in many community organizations and, most recently, was involved in the creation of a multicultural museum in Beckley. A retired music educator, she recently donated more than 200 music reference books to the local School of Harmony.
Nominated by Raleigh County Historical Society

A member of the executive committee of the Marshall County Historical Society, Gerry Wood has served as treasurer of the building fund for six years. She also serves on the Cockayne Historic Preservation Committee and as book fund treasurer. Over a three-year period, Gerry organized volunteers and helped catalog furniture, clothing, and other materials at the Cockayne House. She has spent many hours volunteering with the society, and she is a key figure in organizing and participating in work committees and fundraisers. She also works as a tour guide at the Cockayne House and the historical society museum and helps with West Virginia Day activities.
Nominated by Marshall County Historical Society

In the last seven years, Wayne B. Worth has traveled to each of West Virginia’s 55 counties three times and every June 20th since 2006 has constructed a large birthday card in Huntington with a collage of pictures from his travels as a celebration of the state’s history. For two years, he served as vice president of the KYOWVA Genealogical and Historical Society, and he helped the society move from its old location in Guyandotte to its present quarters in Huntington. These efforts exemplify Worth’s contribution and dedication to the preservation and dissemination of the state’s strengths, identity, and history.
Nominated by KYOWVA Genealogical and Historical Society

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For more information about the History Hero Awards, contact Joe Geiger.


West Virginia's History Heroes

West Virginia Archives and History