Skip Navigation

The Hard
Road Home

William Marland
Photo courtesy West Virginia State Archives

Governor William Casey Marland

by Rod Hoylman

"He's a good driver. I've never had any problems with him, and I'd hate to lose him." The year was 1965, and the quote is from Arthur Dickholtz, president of Flash Cab Company in Chicago. He was referring to William Casey Marland, the governor of West Virginia from 1953 to 1957, who succumbed to alcoholism and ended up driving a cab on the streets of Chicago.

Marland was uncovered by a reporter from the Chicago Tribunein the basement cafe of the YMCA, dining on a $1.25 "all-you-can eat" fried chicken dinner. The April 13, 1965, article that followed was entitled "Drink My Downfall," and it featured a photo of a befuddled and vaguely embarrassed Marland sitting in his taxi. The caption read: "Ex-Governor Marland Chicago Cabbie...From Helm of West Virginia to Wheel of Taxi."

Just 13 years earlier, a youthful and self-confident Bill Marland was canvassing the state "with a big grin and a swagger" in a bid to become West Virginia's youngest governor. "The hardest-working candidate who has ever sought the office of governor," was how Marland was described by the Charleston Gazette's Harry Hoffmann during that political campaign.

In the summer of 1952, it seemed that there was nothing beyond the reach of the youthful Marland, who had achieved spectacular success in every endeavor up to this point. Valedictorian and star athlete at tiny Glen Rogers High School, he earned a football scholarship to the University of Alabama, where he graduated with honors. A Navy lieutenant during World War II, he participated in several assaults in the Pacific to recapture territory from the Japanese. After the war, he went on to the West Virginia School of Law, graduating near the top of the 1947 class. An appointment to Assistant Attorney General was followed by a surprisingly easy victory in the 1950 race for Attorney General. At 34 years of age, Bill Marland now stood at the precipice of reaching the highest office in state politics.

You can read the rest of this article in the Fall 1998 issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.