Since we’ve just completed Valentine’s Day, I thought it might be appropriate to recognize and acknowledge West Virginia’s Favorite Daughters (favorite sons will come later). Webster’s defines them as a “famous person who is a favorite of home town people.” So who is the woman in each field who epitomizes the spirit of West Virginia? They need not have been born in West Virginia, but need to have a strong connection to the State and in some way, have given back to Almost Heaven. Three are deceased, but made such an impact I still included them.
So, here’s my list, by category (alphabetical order):
Business: Phyllis H. Arnold (1948-) stands out among business executives in our state. She is a native of Parkersburg and served as CEO of One Valley Bank and after their merger with BB&T, she became State President of BB&T West Virginia and Regional President of BB&T West Virginia Central Region. She has been a director of NTELOS since 1999. She served as Director of One Valley Bancorp, Inc. since 1993. She served as Member of Board of Trustees of CAM CARE Regional Health System. She serves as a Director at Blanchette Rockefeller Neurosciences Institute. She served as Member of West Virginia Roundtable and Business Industrial Development Co. She served as Director of Discover the Real West Virginia Foundation. She holds BS from West Virginia University, MBA from Marshall University and Studied at Stonier Graduate School of Banking.
Education: Mary J.C.Hendrix (1952-) is the first female president of Shepherd University and a native of Shepherdstown. Her decorated career in higher education and academic medical centers also includes faculty and leadership positions at the University of Arizona, University of California San Francisco, St. Louis University, and the University of Iowa. Hendrix is credited with more than 270 research publications. She is also a nationally recognized leader in cancer research and has been a member of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Council of Councils among others. Her many honors include a MERIT Award from NCI, a University of Iowa Award for Excellence and Achievement Among Women, and the Distinguished Woman Faculty Award from Northwestern’s Feinberg School of Medicine. She is a graduate of Shepherd and received her Ph.D. from George Washington University in Washington, D.C., and then was awarded a post-doctoral fellowship to train at Harvard Medical School.
Entertainment: Jennifer Garner (1972-), a transplant, but she grew up in Charleston, where her father worked for Union Carbide, attending GW High School Garner rose to fame in 2001 when she was cast as the star of the ABC spy drama, “Alias” which aired for 5 seasons. During the show’s run, Garner won a Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe Award for Best Actress. She received 3 additional Globe nominations and four Emmy Award nominations for Best Actress.
In 2009 she became an artist ambassador for Save the Children, promoting national literacy, nutrition and early education efforts. Since 2014 she has served on the board of trustees. As an ambassador she frequently visits families to help children learn in the early years. In 2014 she joined the Invest in Us campaign and, in 2015, appeared in “A Path Appears,” a PBS documentary which focuses on rural poverty among children in West Virginia. What’s in your wallet?
Government: Shelly Moore Capito (1953-) was born in Glenn Dale (hometown of Brad Paisley) and is the daughter of West Virginia’s 28th and 30th governor, Arch Moore. She became the US Representative for WV’s 2nd Congressional district from 2001 until her election to the US Senate in 2014, when she became the first woman to be elected to the Senate in West Virginia history.
She is Chairman of the Subcommittee on Clean Air and Nuclear Safety and Subcommittee on the Legislative Branch. She is the only freshman Senator to chair a subcommittee on the Appropriations Committee. She is a member of the Main Street Partnership, focused on centrist goals in Congress.
Literature: Pearl Buck (1892-1973) was born in Hillsboro to Presbyterian missionaries. She was a writer and novelist, having won the Pulitzer Prize in 1932 for her novel, “The Good Earth.” In 1938 she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature for “her rich and truly epic descriptions of peasant life in China and for her biographical masterpieces. She was the first American woman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature. She spent most of her early life in China but returned to the USA in 1935 where she continued to write and advocate for rights of women and minority groups. She wrote extensively on Chinese and Asian cultures and became known for her efforts on behalf of Asian and mixed-race adoption.
Military: Ruby Bailey (1907-2002), was a native of Spencer and the most decorated female in US military history. She was serving at Camp John Hay in the Philippines when she was captured by the Japanese army three weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941.In 1943, she was moved to the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila. It was there that she and several other imprisoned nurses earned the title “Angels in Fatigues” from fellow captives. For the next several months, she provided medical help to the prisoners and sought to feed starving children by shoving food into her pockets whenever she could, often going hungry herself. As she lost weight, she used the room in her uniform for smuggling surgical equipment into the prisoner-of-war camp. At the camp she assisted in 230 operations and helped to deliver 13 children.
Bradley served in the Korean War as Chief Nurse for the 171st Evacuation Hospital. In November 1950, during the Chinese counter-offensive, she refused to leave until she had loaded the sick and wounded onto a plane in Pyongyang while surrounded by 100,000 advancing Chinese soldiers. She was able to jump aboard the plane just as her ambulance exploded from an enemy shell. She retired in 1963 with the rank of Colonel.
Music: Kathy Mattea (1959-) is a country music and bluegrass performer. She was born in South Charleston and raised in Cross Lanes, where her father worked for a chemical company. She attended WVU for two years before moving to Nashville in 1976, working as a tour guide for the Country Music Hall of fame, secretary and other odd jobs. She’s charted more than 30 singles on Billboard, including four that reached No. 1: “Goin’ Gone,” “Eighteen Wheels and a Dozen Roses,” “Come from the Heart,” and “Burnin’ Old Memories.” She had twelve more singles that broke the Billboard Top Ten. She is a two time Grammy winner, in 1990 for “Where’ve You Been,” and in 1993 for her Christmas album, “Good News.”
Religion: Anna Jarvis (1864-1948), was the founder of Mothers’ Day in the USA and was born in Webster in Taylor County. She and her family later moved to Grafton where she and her mother were active in St. Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church where her mother was the inspiration for Mother’s Day. She remained very close to her mother throughout her life and
On May 10, 1908, three years after her mother’s death, Jarvis held a memorial ceremony to honor her mother and all mothers at Andrews Methodist Episcopal Church, today the International Mother’s Day Shrine, in Grafton, marks the first official observance of Mother’s Day. The International Mother’s Day Shrine has been a designated a National Historical Landmark since 1992.
Science: Judith Hayes (1960-), an American (New Jersey) by birth and West Virginian by choice, earned a Bachelor of Science and Master of Science in exercise physiology at WVU. She is division chief, Biomedical Research and Environmental Sciences Division under the Human Health and Performance Directorate at the NASA Johnson Space Center. She has earned many awards for her work, including the prestigious Silver Snoopy in recognition of her contributions to mission success. During her career she managed the JSC space physiology laboratories, space life sciences Reduced Gravity Program, Space Medicine Project, and integration of biomedical activities for the Space Shuttle. She’s been a commencement speaker at WVU and named Outstanding Alumnus by the College of Physical Activity and Sport Science.
Sports: Mary Lou Retton (1968- ) from Fairmont, won 5 medals in the 1984 Olympics including the All Around in gymnastics gold and became “America’s Sweetheart.” She serves as a gymnastics television commentator, commercial endorser and was the first female to be featured on the front of the Wheaties’ Cereal Box.
Vicky Bullett, Olympic Basketball Gold Medalist (1967- ) Martinsburg, Berkeley County
Molly Line, Fox News Anchor/Reporter (1977- ) Hambleton, Tucker County
Blaze Starr, Burlesque/Stripper star (1932-2015) Twelve Pole Creek, Wayne County
Ginny Thrasher, Olympic Gold Medalist in Rifle (1997-) WVU Student
So, these are my top 10, with 4 runner’s up. Let the debates begin, but please join me on this post-Valentine’s Day to honor, to celebrate and to love West Virginia’s Favorite Daughters!
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Zimmer served as Shepherd’s MBA Coordinator for 6 years, before retiring in May. He has degrees from both WVU and the University of Maryland and has lived or worked in Shepherdstown, Martinsburg, Morgantown and Charleston.
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