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Most Recent News

GMSAA Board Update

 

Memorial Day, May 27, 2024
Greetings from Eden Prairie, Minnesota.

The board would like to give you a brief update of what has been going on since the October 2023 Reunion. We have met a few times via zoom to discuss various matters GMSAA will need to address in upcoming years.

What’s most likely on your mind is the reunion schedule, without further adieu here it is.

After the new year the board organized a Reunion Committee to research what are the best options going forward. The Board members making up this committee are: Michael Crews (Association VP), Denton Staley (Association Sec), Steve Downer and Bear Baker. On April 8, after discussion of their recommendations, it was unanimously agreed that the following schedule be adopted for this upcoming 2024 GMSAA Reunion.

1) Reunion Schedule

Schedule for Oct 2024 GMSAA Reunion
All Events at the Sharp Alumni Center unless noted otherwise.

Thursday, Oct 17, 
Registration 4-7 pm

Friday, Oct 18
Registration 9 am-7 pm

Golf @ Lewisburg CC: 9am-3pm

Flag Raising Ceremony: 9:30 a.m.

GMSAA Board Meeting 10am-12n

Retreat Formation, Front Court 3:30 
   Retreat Rehearsal: 3:30 pm
   Retreat: 5 pm
   Group Photo inside the Quad immediately after Retreat Formation

Catered Dinner Buffet 6 pm Sharp Center

Dance/Sock Hop 7:30-10 pm

Saturday Oct 19
Pre Meeting Beverages Coffee and Pastries 9:30
General Meeting: 10am-12n

12 noon: Dismiss the Corp, Free time.

The rest of the day open to do what ever you wish. Denton has been in contact with various restaurants around town to inquire about available private gatherings. Restaurant contacts coming soon.

Sunday, Oct 20 
Church at Old Stone Presbyterian: 11 am
 
NOTE: Registration window will be open as soon as final costs are determined.

Also, the DJ Denton has contacted will provide a website where you will be able to request songs of your era. That will be available soon.

From the Reunion Committee: The rationale for the new reunion schedule is as follows. Concern was expressed at the elimination of the Saturday evening activities. The financial reports have shown that Saturday events have been our major expense in the past and this is where we have the best opportunity to reduce costs. It was noted that Bobby Nichols, who we have used extensively over the past years, is spending more time in London with his son and is harder to get in contact with him. This proposal also eliminates the need for the Student Center and another catered dinner.


Attendance records show that the numbers have been declining at the Saturday Night Dinner Dance activity with expenses climbing. It became obvious that this was the best place to cut expenses and still offer dancing at the Sharp center. To continue the Saturday evening activities and not dip into operating funds would require an increase in prices. This increase possibly could further lower the numbers willing to participate.


Bill Stinnette recommended that the buffet be a little nicer with a second meat option and something for a vegan option. The DJ has agreed to furnish an email address where music requests can be sent and he will arrange to play that list plus the best dance tunes from your day.

2) GMSAA Awards. In the past GMSAA has bestowed awards to individuals who have met certain criteria that would merit him to receive special recognition. The Board would like to reinstate some of those awards. More information will be coming soon.

3) Inventory of the GMSAA Archives. Denton, Michael Crews and Steve Downer have been working in Lewisburg going through the items in the archives to meet the legal requirement that all items in our care are inventoried for the eventual dissolution of GMSAA.

4) Members of the Board have represented GMSAA at various functions at WVSOM and at the two Greenbrier County High Schools. They have also met with WVSOM IT personnel to review security and received assurance the website will be maintained by WVSOM in the event of various scenarios that have been brought up by members of the association. Plus, Jim Dodway and Jackson Tully have also proudly represented GMSAA at various activities.

5) Michael Crews, Denton Staley and Steve Downer have been doing extraordinary duty for you, the members.

Respectfully, on behalf of the Board,
Mike Ruth

Your Stories Need to be Written

 

Good 1st Weekend of March to you:
Sorry for this long windy post.

I am an avid reader of WW2 personal histories and memoirs. My bookcase has more books that describe the stories of the men and women who struggled so valiantly to keep the world free, than novels. There is something in those books that provide me a grounding in my place in the world. We can learn a lot from reading about other people's stories.

Denton Staley and I were talking a few nights ago. Think about this fact, there are a lot of our comrades who were juniors at GMS when it closed, thereby missing out on the final tradition many of us enjoyed. We should do something to recognize them. Denton told about one cadet who wanted to write something about this but didn't know where to start. We should encourage those who want to write about this experience to do that. 

GMS closed 52 years ago and we still have attachments and strong memories of our time in Lewisburg. We really should hear from the Class of '73. As far as I know there has never been a recognition of what these guys went through. Can we encourage this for the next reunion? Perhaps have a program for these guys from what should have been the Class of '73, (an honorary diploma?). A few of them do show up each year. Plus, how did this closing impact the class of '72 being the last class?

My niece graduated high school in the spring of 2020. It was very traumatic for 2020 high school kids to graduate, yet not graduate like they were planning on. She wrote an editorial for the Columbus Dispatch which she has given permission to share and use as a template.

Another thing we were discussing was starting a column on our website we thought might be called "War Stories".   We would like to see stories of things that occured while we were at GMS. Everyone has something funny or not funny to share. I know I had my share of escapades. For example: Phil Fullerton (a roommate from 1967-68) and I strung over 300' of bell wire on the roof of D company to use as an antenna for my Hallicrafter multiband radio. The better story is how we got on the roof. (You know there was a lot of cadet activity on the roof of GMS, none of it authorized.)

Currently we have a space on the website which we call Greenbrier Remembrances, (http://www.gmsaa.org/cadets/remembrances). But rarely used. Perhaps we could rename that or start a new column altogether.  We would need help in promoting people into writing for it.  Could there be potential to compile those articles into a printed piece that we could offer for sale where profits could benefit scholarships.

Just some thoughts that have been on my mind. If you have any stories to share email them to me at: gms.mike.ruth@gmail.com

Mike Ruth, Class of 1969

Greenbrier Military School year end letter.

 

Hello, my name is Emmitt Denton Staley. I am a 1972 graduate of GMS and was recently elected to serve on your Alumni Association Board and subsequently have become your new Secretary. I would not say that I was elected Secretary but instead was the only person gullible enough to take on this task. In less than two months, I am overwhelmed at the discovery of the huge amount of work and time that Herb Pearis and Bob Boles have given our association over their course of service. I accept the office as my way to honor Herb, my teacher, advisor and dear friend. I have asked Bob to continue as my mentor as long as possible to lend continuity to this office at a time that will need someone with a grasp of our school history, a working knowledge of our Association processes, and a commitment to cementing our legacy through our scholarships at Greenbrier East and West, and at WVSOM. That is why I am communicating with you today.

Much has been said and written about how we are a “graying” group and in talking to our members, it is obvious that many of us are asking the question “how long will our association and/or our reunions continue?” That is a question asked not out of a morbid fascination but instead a real sense of responsibility to the association. A responsibility, I would point out, that we learned at GMS. The Board of Directors has approved a plan that will take us through the steps of closing the business side of the association when the time is right. This plan was created by your board several years ago as they looked down the road at our smaller membership numbers and shrinking resources. You could call it our estate planning document. But once the plan is initiated, it won’t mean we stop getting together in Lewisburg the third weekend in October. Yes, we are planning for the inevitable, but we will still be able to get together for years to come.

Communication is key to a healthy association. As I see it, the board has worked hard to be as transparent as possible with the membership. We have a nice balance of new and seasoned board members working for our association. There are some tough decisions your board will need to make in the next few years, but with everyone working together, we will succeed.

One of the big decisions made last year was minimizing our mailings and changing how we will be communicating with you in the future. In the past, we have had at least 3 annual mailings go out to the membership. Producing these in the traditional way results in an expense of $1200 to $2500 per mailing. In the future, we will be using e-mail and our website as our main communication tools. We will also be providing a link in every Facebook post that will direct you to the website for more information. The board does not want this to be difficult for anyone or to lose our connection with you. If you really need conventional (snail) mail, contact me at the information below, and I will try my best to accommodate you.

A great way for you to help make this a successful transition is to help ensure your Cadet Database information is up-to-date. Also, I am as old school as any of you, but even I've managed to navigate our modern website to share a Greenbrier Remembrance – a chance for all of us to share our stories about “The Brier”. It's surprisingly simple, just head over to our Greenbrier Remembrances page, type out your story directly on the site and it will be instantly posted for all our alumni to see. If you're a registered user, you can edit or delete your post anytime – no need to call in your grandkids for tech support. Another option is to share your memories and media in our Official Group on Facebook. Make Col. Benjamin proud.

This is an exciting time for GMSAA. So that you will understand my commitment to you, I am adjusting my will so that our Scholarship Fund will be the recipient of a bequest from my estate and have instructed my lawyer to notify our association of that fact in writing. This is one example of how you can help fund our Scholarship program. Another option is to make a year-end gift. These contributions could be tax deductible because GMSAA is a 501C-3. Please note you are free to do both. Donate to the association in your lifetime and remember us in your last wishes. The amazing thing I have learned in the last few months is that we have alumni from the ’50s, ’60s and ’70s that plan to be coming to Lewisburg for many years to come. I think there are quite a few of us that have our eye on that bottle of scotch in the GMS Museum.

Thank you for your time to read this. Please make sure we have your email and phone number so that we can keep in touch. You can update this info by using the “Request an Update” button on the upper-right of your online Cadet Database profiles, or by contacting us directly through our at Contact Form. We will be looking into another fundraising and bequest drive in the next few months with the goal of raising $250K to finish securing our Scholarship Fund into perpetuity. If you would like to start the ball rolling on our fundraising goals, by all means, push it off. Remember, our scholarship program is our legacy to the school.

E. Denton Staley
GMSAA Secretary, Class of ’72
gms.dentonstaley@gmail.com


PLEASE HELP GMSAA THIS YEAR

Your support is vital to the continuation of our legacy. We invite you to make a tax-deductible donation to the Greenbrier Military School Alumni Association. To contribute, you can mail your donation to the address below, or visit our online Donation Form and choose how you would like to allocate your donation:

  • The GMS Leadership Scholarship Fund
  • The WVSOM Scholarship Fund
  • The GMS Museum Fund
  • General Operating Fund

Truth • Duty • Honor

GMS Alumni Association
P.O. Box 922 Lewisburg, WV 24901

Recent Cadet Passings

 

It has recently been brought to our attention the following cadets have passed away. At this moment we have no further particulars. If any of you have any information on these alumni, could you forward those details to me at: GMS.Mike.Ruth@gmail.com

Fred F. McIntosh III, Class of ’45
Old Tappan, NJ
March 10, 2022

Dr. Robert Bell , Class of '52
San Antonio, TX
July 12, 2022

Robert Nelson, Class of '53
Lady Lake, FL
No Date Available

Barham Parker, Class of '57
Black Diamond WA
February7, 2021

Mike Amling, Class of ’69
London, OH
June 2022

GMS 'Brier Patch' Yearbooks NOW AVAILABLE FOR VIEW!

 

Hello to all GMS Alumni & Friends,

I am happy to announce as of today (May 24th, 2020) that 50 years of GMS yearbooks are now available for FREE VIEW on our website!

I hope many of you find pleasure in viewing these archives of history as I certainly did in the process of optimizing, stabilizing & cropping all 4,289 total pages from a dark microfilm state. Each yearbook has been carefully lightened with level & curve adjustments for easier visibility. As seen in this photo, the PDF reader allows for the PDF to be downloaded if you'd like to keep a copy for yourself. Also, to view the yearbook in full screen, click the "Presentation Mode" button above the reader.

A huge thanks also goes to Mike Ruth '69 and our museum curator, Mary Essig, for making this yearbook project possible!

Ready to check it out? View them under the Cadets dropdown, select "'Brier Patch' Yearbooks!"

Enjoy,

Matt Winans
GMSAA Webmaster

Most Recent Cadet Obituaries

Theresa M. Downer

 


Theresa Mays Downer, 69, of Covington, died Wednesday, May 22, 2024 at her residence.

Theresa was born May 7, 1955, in Alleghany County, a daughter of late M.S. “Slick” Mays and Lois Dressler Mays.

Mrs. Downer retired in 2020 from the Virginia Department of Health as an inspector with thirty years of service. She was a member of the Mt. Carmel Methodist Church.

Surviving is her husband, James A. “Jim” Downer of Covington; one son, JD (Becky) Downer, II. of Covington; two daughters, Jennifer (Brad) Hicks of Covington, and Cassie (Shannon) Johnson of Danville, nine grandchildren; six great-grandchildren; one sister, Sandra Watson of Covington; a niece, Michelle Clarke; five nephews, Matthew (Margee) Clarke, Dustin Clarke, Shane Clarke, Abe Clarke, and Thom (Jeff) Watson; one aunt, Helen Worsham of Arlington.

In keeping with her wishes, her body has been cremated.

A memorial service will be held Tuesday, May 28, 2024, at 2:00 PM at Mt. Carmel Methodist Church with the Rev. Doug Hollenbeck officiating.

Memorial contributions in Mrs. Downer's name can be made to: Mt. Carmel United Church 1200 N. Alleghany Ave, Covington, VA 24426, or ONE FIGHT, Inc. 2704 Jackson River Rd, Covington, VA 24426.

Arnold Nelson Gilmer, Jr.

1962
 

Arnold "Nelson" Gilmer, Jr.
March 18, 1944 — April 9, 2024
Arnold "Nelson" Gilmer Jr., age 80, of Bel Air, Maryland passed away peacefully on April 9, 2024, surrounded by family in his home. Born in Lynchburg, Virginia, he was the son of the late Arnold and Frances Gilmer and husband of 45 years to Karen D. Gilmer. He was a member of the National Guard. He was the owner of Gilmer Moving and Storage of Aberdeen, MD for many years and remained in Transportation Logistics for the remaining years of his life. He was a beloved member of Freedom Church and his passion was teaching Bible classes and helping others to understand God’s word. He was a lifelong resident of Harford County. His favorite hobby was to golf.

In addition to his wife, Nelson is survived by his daughters, Carrie (Derek) McCoy, and Crystal Gilmer; son, Michael (Missy)Yingling; grandchildren, Nathan McCoy, Madelyn McCoy, Hailey McCoy, Carissa Yingling, and Alexa Yingling; great granddaughter, Keelyn Williams.

Contributions may be made to Freedom Church, 1705 Conowingo Road, Bel Air, Md 21014

David F. Ritchie

1957
 

Ritchie, David F., 85, of Hope Street, Rumford, died on March 9, 2024 at his home surrounded by his loving family. He was the beloved husband of Sharon Kay (Francia) Ritchie.

Born in New Bedford, MA, a son of the late David W. and Ida (Cory) Ritchie, he lived in Rumford for the past three years, previously residing in Pittsburgh, PA.

David graduated from the University of Cincinnati Class of 1960 where he earned a master’s degree.

Mr. Ritchie was a college and professional football coach for 50 years before retiring in 2012. David began his coaching career in 1962 as an assistant coach with Greenbrier Military School.

He was an assistant coach with his alma mater, Cincinnati, from 1969 to 1972. He later joined the Brown Bears as an assistant coach and head recruiter. Thereafter, David was the head coach for the Fairmont State Fighting Falcons, from 1978 to 1982, where he compiled a 35–13–3 record.

He was a former American gridiron football coach in college football, the Canadian Football League (CFL), the Italian Football League (IFL), and Switzerland Nationalliga A (American football). He is best known for his time as the Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach from 1999 to 2004. He was a three-time Grey Cup champion, having won in 1990, 1994, and 2006 and was named the CFL’s Coach of the Year in 2001. He won 108 regular season games as a head coach in the CFL which is the seventh highest win total by a head coach in the league’s history.

Mr. Ritchie was named to the Fairmont State Hall of Fame in 2010, following five years as a head coach there with two conference titles and one Coal Bowl victory in 1979. He is a member of the Blue Bomber Hall of Fame as the fourth-winningest head coach in team history with a record of 52–44–1 and winning a Grey Cup as an assistant coach in 1990.

Mr. Ritchie was enshrined in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in the Class of 2022 as a builder.

Besides his wife of 65 years, he is survived by two daughters, Phyllis R. Buckley and her husband Jay of Riverside and Susan E. Custer and her husband Dan of Barrington, a son, David W. Ritchie of Rumford; eight grandchildren, Sarah, Matthew, Daniel, David, Katelyn, Kendra, Kylie and David; three great-grandchildren, two brothers, Frank J. Ritchie and his late wife Carole of Cincinnati, Ohio and Philip A. Ritchie and his wife Barbara of Raleigh, NC and a sister Susan R. Todres and her husband Allen of Franklin, MA and several nieces and nephews.

His Funeral Service will be held on Saturday March 16, 2024 in the W. RAYMOND WATSON FUNERAL HOME, 350 Willett Avenue, Riverside at 9 a.m. A private burial will follow in Beach Grove Cemetery, Westport, MA.

The Ritchie family will receive relatives and friends for a Celebration of Life on Saturday March 16, 2024 from 1-3 p.m. in the Blue Water Grill Restaurant, 32 Barton Avenue, Barrington, RI 02806.

Calling Hours and flowers are respectfully omitted. Contributions in David’s memory to The Wolf School, 215 Ferris Avenue, East Providence, RI, 02916 would be deeply appreciated.

James William Kane

1957
 


JAMES "JIM"' KANE OBITUARY
U.S. Veteran
Mr. James (Jim) William Kane, Sr. Age 85, passed away Monday, February 26, 2024, at his son’s home in Prattville, AL.

Mr. Kane was born in Logan County, West Virginia and had been a resident of Monroeville since August 11, 2011. He was a retired Labor relations and human resource specialist. He was an active member of the First United Church of Monroeville and was a member of the choir. He worked for several major coal companies, NASA, and Defense Contractors. He was also an Eagle Scout. He was highly active in his community, and a member of the Wednesday Work group at First United Methodist.

Preceded in death by his wife, Janice A. Kane, his parents C.O. Kane and Wilsie Kane, his brother Danny Kane, a daughter Kandy Kane, a son James W. Kane II, and a granddaughter, Tiffany M. Blackard.

Survivors include three daughters, Lauri L. Sprague of Charles Town, WV, Connie S. Kane of Brentwood, TN, and Tabitha F. Kane of UT. Three sons, John P. Stewart of Prattville, James (Bo) A. Stewart of Ringgold, GA, and Jeremy R. Stewart of Houston.; numerous grandchildren and great-grandchildren.

Memorial services will be Saturday, March 9, 2024 at 3:00 P.M at Monroe Chapel Funeral Home with Pastor John Woodrow officiating..

In lieu of flowers, please send donations to the First United Methodist Church of Monroeville, 324 Pineville Road, Monroeville, Alabama, 36460.

Please share your condolences online by signing Mr. Kane's guestbook.

Joseph Martin III

1966
 

Joe Martin Obituary
Obituary published on Legacy.com by Tomblyn Funeral Home and Cremation Service on Feb. 24, 2024.
Joe Martin III, a longtime leader in state and local government whose service spanned decades and historic milestones, died Thursday, Feb. 22, 2024, at his home in Charleston. He was 75.

Martin dedicated his life to public service. He holds the record as Elkins' youngest city council member and mayor, and the state's first Homeland Security advisor. He is remembered by colleagues as a statesman, friend and mentor, the one who would always pull through for the competition of any project.
"Some of my earliest memories are attending campaign events across the district with my father, seeing how much attention and care he paid to each of his constituents," said Martin's daughter, Abbey. "I may be an only child, but the people of West Virginia (especially Randolph and Pocahontas counties) may as well have been my siblings. He'd say, 'Ab, you always have to remember to put more into this world than you take out of it.' It was in his blood, and he made sure it would be in mine."
Martin's career began in 1973 when he was elected to Elkins City Council. Two years into his service, Elkins City Hall moved to its current location from Fourth Street, where the fire department was expanded and stands today.

After a four-year term on council, he won the race for mayor of Elkins in 1977 at age 28. He held that post until 1989.

During his tenure as mayor, he also served in the West Virginia House of Delegates District 30, representing residents of Randolph and Pocahontas counties. That service continued for 22 years amid redistricting. He was appointed to the legislature in June 1978 to fill the unexpired term of Julia Pitsenberger Elbon, was elected to the position later that year and again every two years through 1998.

"Joe was just a natural born leader," said Elkins resident Steve Shepler, who served on city council when Martin was mayor. "He did a tremendous job for Elkins as mayor and when he was in the House he could work on things we needed and bring them to the state level." He kept the city moving with progress, including upgrades to the landfill and the circa 1929 water plant.

Martin was also a mentor to Shepler.
"I observed him a lot when I was on council," Shepler said. "When he decided to not run again for mayor, he suggested I might consider it."
Shepler was successful in his bid and continued to work with Martin when the city needed help from the state.
As a member of the House, Martin served more than two terms as majority leader, chairman of the House Committee on Government Organization, co-chairman of the Joint Committee on Government Operations, chairman of the House Select Committee on Health Care Policies, co-chairman of the Forest Management Review Commission, chairman of the House Committee on Oil and Gas, and as a member of the Joint Committee on Government and Finance, House Committee on Rules, Commission on Special Investigations and Legislative Oversight Commission on Health and Human Resources Accountability.

With the onslaught of responsibility, Martin always focused on what was best for his constituents and residents of the state. A prime example is the purchase and development of the former CSX railyard in downtown Elkins. When the company pulled up tracks in what was the epicenter of the town's founding and later a hub of commerce transportation and employment, the Randolph County Development Authority knew the 20-plus acre site had to be repurposed for the good of the community. However, they were lacking the approximate $2 million asking price.

"Joe was instrumental in getting the majority of the funds and we raised the rest," said Jim Schoonover, who served as RCDA president at the time. "CSX took a note and it was about a four-year process."

Since then, it's been what Schoonover described as "one brick at a time" with the restoration of the depot, the bridge replacement, Durbin & Greenbrier Railroad excursions, Holiday Inn Express, the former theater and current church, as well as the future event center.

"All of this wouldn't have happened if we had not purchased it and that's all because of Joe Martin. He was the integral part."
In gratitude, Martin Street was named in his honor.

"It was the least we could do to put his name on the street in the middle of the railyard," Schoonover said.
"He never forgot who he represented and that showed when he got the money to buy the railyard," said Bill Hartman, a RCDA member at the time and later a member of the House of Delegates. "The railyard is very important to the community and will continue to be. Joe did that for us."
Former Elkins mayor Jimmy Hammond had a similar experience when the city planned to develop the 22-acre Riverbend Park.
"He got us the money to buy the land," Hammond said. "Any time we needed help, he was the go-to guy. He never failed me."
Today the park serves thousands of residents and visitors with athletic facilities for Little League baseball, soccer fields, walking trails and pavilions.
Tom Meader, retired Elkins fire chief, echoed Hammond's sentiments.

"Joe was one outstanding mayor," said Meader, who had just joined the fire department when Martin was on council. "He did a lot for the city to bring it forward. We had a lot of respect for him because when you went to him for help or a suggestion, he always gave you an answer – he never put you off."
An Elkins staple, the Mountain State Forest Festival was a favorite event for Martin. As a public official, he presented Queen Silvia with the "Investment of Mantle Authority" during the Royal Coronation ceremony. On at least one occasion, he stepped in for the governor to bestow the crown to her majesty.
Elkins businessman and former city councilman Harold Elbon, whose wife Julia preceded Martin's term in the House, enjoyed forming a partnership with the Forest Festival and the city.

"We worked a lot together on the Forest Festival when I was director general," Elbon said. "He and the city were very helpful. He was such a go-getter for Elkins."
Pocahontas County Commission President Walt Helmick considered Martin not only a close friend, but the one he always went to for advice on any issue that arose throughout his political career. That included the local and state fronts, along with multiple occurrences when the two crossed over to the federal level.
When he and Martin were discussing how to move the Corridor H project forward, they knew a trip to Washington, D.C., was in order. The two, along with Hartman, scheduled a meeting with former U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd and other leaders.

"I spent a lot of time in meetings in Washington because over half of Pocahontas County is owned by the federal government, so I had that connection," Helmick said. "But, in that meeting, it was just Joe's presence, how he conducted himself, and his connections with Jennings Randolph that made it successful. Everything that got re-energized came out of that meeting."

Byrd suggested they raise the gasoline tax by 5 cents, which then netted $55 million in one year to help fund the project beyond the Buckhannon to I-79 connection.
Helmick said that wasn't the only time Martin's very presence and knowledge made a difference. He cited Howes Tannery and Inter-State Hardwoods.
"If I called him with any issue, he was there," Helmick said. "He had connections to and knowledge of the timber industry and environmental issues. People appreciate that when they can connect with someone who knows about their business and what they face."

Among his other accomplishments, Martin ushered in a bill that exempted Helvetia cheese from most state food regulations and was instrumental in passing a bill to allow vintage cars to legally use license plates from the year they were manufactured.

In 2001, Martin was appointed Cabinet Secretary of the Department of Military Affairs and Public Safety – now the Department of Homeland Security – by then-Gov. Bob Wise. In that post he oversaw the divisions of Criminal Justice Services, Corrections, Juvenile Services, Regional Jail Authority, West Virginia Parole Board, State Police, Protective Services, Office of Emergency Services, Veterans Affairs, West Virginia National Guard and the West Virginia State Fire Commission.
It was during that time Christy Farris Morris, a former legislative lawyer, agreed to serve as Martin's deputy cabinet secretary. The two remained colleagues throughout their careers and as friends well after.

"He gave his all to everything," Farris Morris said. "He had the distinct ability to see through obstacles to find solutions."
Within a few months into his role with MAPS, one of those obstacles presented itself. The tragedy of 9/11 devastated the nation and Martin's duties expanded as the state's first Homeland Security advisor, a position the federal government required in each state. Advisors participated in regular meetings with the White House to discuss needs and plans in their states.

"During this time there was a flood of information coming in for new requirements and laws, and assessment of what resources were needed. Joe had never worked as a first responder and he wasn't afraid to let others teach him what he needed to know for this role," Farris Morris said. "Joe was very forward thinking and he knew how to marshal the resources to prepare for any act of terrorism. I think he enjoyed helping direct those plans."

In the meantime, the state was hit with natural disasters. When floods struck, destroying homes and communities, it was par for the course for Martin, Wise and sometimes Farris Morris to board helicopters for a bird's eye view.

"What you see from the air is entirely different. It's horrific," Farris Morris said. "Joe and the governor wanted to meet with those people, to give them comfort. Joe, in his shirt sleeves, would march up and ask how they could help. It was just part of who Joe was – always wanting to help people."

Among his work was involvement in years of planning for the state's 10 regional jails, including the Tygart Valley Regional Jail, which opened in 2005.
Martin's dedication, leadership and expertise in state government landed him in a new role in 2003 as Wise's legislative director, the liaison between the governor, House and Senate. Added to that was senior staff responsibility for the state budget.

"He was good at recognizing good legislation and shepherding it to become law," Farris Morris said. "And, he was good at masterfully passing a responsible budget."
Martin wasn't all business, though. Farris Morris recalls his sense of humor and quick wit to come up with puns, sometimes even on the House floor, that resulted in bursts of laughter.

And, then there were his random acts of kindness.
Farris Morris remembers one afternoon when the two were walking back to their office, grasping their umbrellas to protect them from driving rain.
"Joe was always alert to his surroundings, so when he saw a woman with no umbrella, standing drenched in the rain, he ran back and gave her his umbrella," she said. "He thought she needed it worse than he did. That's the stereotypical Joe Martin and that's one thing I will miss."

When Wise's administration ended, Martin was still at the top of the list for public service. In 2005, then-Gov. Joe Manchin appointed him deputy chief of staff and he also took on the responsibility of the state budget and public finance. He later worked as legislative director of West Virginia Policy and Legislative Affairs.
"It was around that time that bond ratings began to suffer," Farris Morris recalls. "Joe went to work and helped them to stay strong so people would move to West Virginia. He was loyal to the end and we are loyal to him to the end."

"Gayle and I are saddened by the passing of Joe Martin, a longtime friend and true public servant to the state of West Virginia," Manchin, now a U.S. Senator representing West Virginia, said. "Joe dedicated his life to the people of our great state and his legacy will always be remembered. I join all West Virginians in sending our thoughts and prayers to the Martin family."

Martin was born June 15, 1948, in Elkins, a son of the late Dr. Joseph E. Martin Jr. and Rose G. Martin.
He graduated from Greenbrier Military School in Lewisburg in 1966, where he achieved the title of battalion commander as the leading cadet. He went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree in business administration from West Virginia Wesleyan College in Buckhannon in 1970. In 1971, he began work on his master's degree in industrial relations at West Virginia University.

He is survived by his only daughter, Abbey R. Martin of Brooklyn, New York; a sister, Jane Ann Jesson of Enterprise, Alabama; a brother, John S. Martin and partner, Hope Rierson, of Elkins; several nieces and nephews; his former wife, Sarah Mongold Martin, and his grandpup Napoleon, whom he loved very much.
In addition to his parents, he was preceded in death by a sister, Mary Edith Martin Schneider, and a brothers in-law, Edward J. Schneider and Darreld Jesson.

A Methodist by faith, Martin was a member of the First United Methodist Church of Elkins. A memorial service is planned for late June