Group Working to Inventory West Virginia’s Assets

Date Written by Jason Keeling on June 12, 2008

west-virginia-vision-shared-image-improvement-team.jpgLike many predominantly rural states, West Virginia must overcome a few stereotypical, inaccurate perceptions. This was demonstrated most recently as residents were generalized as racists during the national Democratic primary and when Vice President Dick Cheney uttered a tactless comment to the National Press Club heralding the state as inbreds.

West Virginia’s people, places and culture deserve to be accurately represented, and with this in mind, members of the Vision Shared image improvement team are compiling a “West Virginia Inventory of Assets” to highlight the state’s positive and worthwhile qualities.

The group will be listing various West Virginia assets based on, but not limited to these categories:

  • Geographic Advantages
  • West Virginia “Firsts”
  • Everyday Success Stories
  • Famous West Virginians
  • Cultural Authenticity
  • Education Practices

Image improvement team members and general readers are encouraged to help build the “West Virginia Inventory of Assets” via their comments here.

11 Responses to “Group Working to Inventory West Virginia’s Assets”

  1. Todd Beane said:

    In the “famous people” category-some exceptional citizens, but less obvious, of West Virginia that have helped develop what our state is today include:

    The legacy of achievement exemplified by Booker T. Washington continues through other black West Virginians like the Rev. Dr. Leon Sullivan, who founded the Opportunity Industrialization Center, a job-training organization with branches around the world; Tony Brown, host of public television’s “Tony Brown Journal;” and Henry Louis Gates, a prolific and renown literary critic.

    In the fall of 1995, the city of Huntington erected a statue in honor of Dr. Carter G. Woodson, “Father of Black History.” Woodson had served as principal of Douglass High School in Huntington and dean at West Virginia State College, Institute, WV. In 2000, the city of Charleston named one of its main city streets in honor of its native Rev. Sullivan, changing Broad Street to “Leon Sullivan Way.”

    Hal Greer (1936-)- Played for the Philadelphia 76ers from 1963 to 1973 and was named the MVP in 1968. He was born in Huntington, W.Va. and attended Douglas High School (Black High School) and Marshall University. Hal Greer Boulevard in Huntington is named for him.

    Bishop T.D. Jakes is the pastor of Potter’s House Church in Dallas and is seen nationally on BET and TBN. He is the author of Woman, Thou Art Loosed! and The Lady, Her Lover, and Her Lord. Jakes quit working at the Union Carbide chemical plant in 1982 and stepped into the pulpit. Becoming pastor of Temple of Faith in Charleston W. Va., before moving to Dallas. “The Bishop” was born in Charleston.
    (excerpts taken from

    Morgan Spurlock (1970)
    Born: Parkersburg, West Virginia on 11/7/1970

    Steve Harvey (1957)
    Born: Welch, West Virginia on 1/17/1957

    Brad Paisley
    Born: Glendale, West Virginia

    Jennifer Garner
    Born: Charleston, West Virginia

    Jerry West, NBA great

    Randy Barnes, Olympian

    Mary Lou Retton, Olympian

    Earl Lloyd graduated from West Virginia State University in 1950. That same year, he became the first african american to play an NBA game.

    Just a few to get you started. Hope this helps.

  2. Rebecca said:

    West Virginians are very giving people. I do believe the The United Way has exceeded it’s fundraising goals for at least the past two years!

  3. Chris James said:


    Seriously, the Holy Trinity of West Virginia food (biscuit sandwiches, sauce n slaw hot dogs, and pepperoni rolls) along with ramps, beans & corn bread, and extra beefy spaghetti bolognese are among the best meals on the planet.

  4. Christy said:

    Here are some of my favorites:
    Author and “Rocket Boy” Homer Hickam born in Coalwood, WV.

    Nobel Prize-winning author Pearl Buck, born in Hillsboro, WV.

    and singer Kathy Mattea, born in Crosslanes.

  5. Janis said:

    West Virginia has a tremendous history of hand blown glass. One of the few factories remaining today is Blenko in Milton WV.

    Glass blown at Blenko is as stunning as the glass blown in Italy and Scandanavia.

    West Virginia is also famous for making marbles!

  6. Tina Totten King said:

    It was shocking to me that Dick Cheney’s comment was met with a universal “can’t you take a joke?” from other Americans. A joke? Sure. But it’s not funny. Nothing is funny abot perpetuating harmful stereotypes.

    Can I add that, despite our relatively smaller population, West Virginia Scrabble players took top spots in their divisions during the most recent regional tournament? Our group strives to represent not only the dedication and skills of West Virginians, and to continue our tradition of hospitality by welcoming all persons to join us. Still…we are occasionally met with a thoughtless comment. And then we represent our state with dignity.

    I’ve been proud to call West Virginia my home for 18 years. :-)

  7. Stacey said:

    I commend the creators of this site! West Virginia should be acknowledged for all of the wonderful things that it contains. I live a few hours away in Ohio and am always surprised when people emphasize the negative stereotypes about West Virginia. West Virginia has been a very positive vacation destination for me. I love whitewater rafting, mountain biking, and hiking there, the natural geography is gorgeous, and there are so many great artisans.

  8. Dave said:

    Visit our blog to see how we are helping the local food movement at the Elkins Farmers Market.

  9. Howard Swint said:

    May have missed it from previous entries but please add Dr. John Nash, Nobel Laureate and James Jett, Olympic Gold Medalist.
    We may also be surprised to learn of those national figures who have second homes in West Virginia especially in Greenbrier County and several resort areas.
    Did anyone hear Congressman Roscoe Bartlette (R-MD), arguably the foremost authority on US energy policy, say on the floor of the House of Representatives recently, that, “I have a home in West Virginia that’s off-grid…”
    Many stories comparable to his - because of our quality of life.

  10. Howard Swint said:

    Ed Edsel, Olympic Gold Medalist.
    Mike Barrett, Olympic Gold Medalist.
    Chuck Yeager, WWII Ace and first to break the sound barrier.
    Leon Sullivan, founder of OIC, and first to sit on Fortune 500 BoD.

  11. Paul said:

    When looking for famous West Virginians, you should look at the Distinguished Alumni Award recipients and Alumni Academies at our higher education institutions. Those lists include a number of successful West Virignians from a variety of career fields, in-state and out-of-state residents, etc. A large number of those are listed online with a brief bio on the honoree.

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