William Harper, Don Marsh, Joe Mills and Samuel Craig Shaw entering Hall of Fame in ‘Veterans Class’
WV Press News Sharing
CHARLESTON, W.Va. — West Virginia newspapers have voted J Michael ‘Mike’ Myer of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register in Wheeling and Mary Helen Hedges of Roane County Reporter and Spencer Newspapers in Spencer into the West Virginia Press Association’s Hall of Fame.
The newspapers voted this week with the two nominees with the most votes earning induction into the Hall of Fame, Class of 2023. The Hall is housed at the Reed College of Media on the campus of WVU in Morgantown.
Under a revised Hall of Fame format, the committee also inducted four from the ‘Veterans Class’ of newspaper standouts who died before 2000.
Veterans Inductees include the following:
- William Harper, 1808-1887, Morgantown Post.
- Don Marsh, 1927-1999, The Charleston Gazette.
- Joe Mills, 1939-1990, Wirt County Journal.
- Samuel Craig Shaw, 1874-1957, Moundsville Daily Echo.
Myer and Hedges were selected from an group of outstanding representatives of the state newspaper industry.
- Meade Dorsey, 1921-2009, Spirit of Jefferson Advocate in Charles Town.
- Mary Helen Hedges, 1921-2007, Roane County Reporter in Spencer.
- J Michael ‘Mike’ Myer, 1951-2021, The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register in Wheeling.
- Charles Yeager, 1921-2002, Nicholas Chronicle in Summersville.
NOTE: Full biographies are at the bottom of this post.
On Friday evening, Oct. 13, and Saturday morning, Oct. 14, the re-imagined Hall of Fame event will recognize the newspaper industry’s newest stars and most valuable employees. The highlight of the weekend will be Saturday morning’s induction of historical and recent industry leaders into the Hall of Fame
“WV Press hosts this celebration every other year, but COVID forced us to cancel the event. Our board of directors wanted to re-energize the event and recognize both our past leaders and the many talented new employees joining our newspaper industry,” said Betsy Miles, incoming Executive Director of the WV Press Association.
The tentative celebration program is as follows:
Friday, Oct. 13
6 p.m. – Welcome and Hall of Fame Opening Reception
- Introduction of the Betsy Miles, incoming Executive Director, and WV Press leadership.
- Rising Stars Class of 2023 Announcement – Outstanding employees with five years of experience or less at their company.
- MVPs (Most Valuable Performers) Class of 2023 Announcement – Outstanding employees with more than five years of experience at their company.
Saturday, Oct. 14
10 a.m. — Brunch
11 a.m. – Hall of Fame Ceremonies
- Recognition of G. Ogden Nutting, recently deceased publisher of Ogden Newspapers and member of the WV Press Hall of Fame Committee.
- Veterans Committee Honorees – Inductees from the industry prior to 2000.
- Hall of Fame Class of 2023 – Inductees from the industry since 2000.
NOTE: Event sponsorships and donations in honor of nominees are accepted for this event. All donations and any profit raised from the celebration are used to fund paid internships and college scholarships for newspaper industry students. More information is available by contacting Smith at 304-550-0454 or [email protected].
Here are biographies of the inductees:
2023 Hall of Fame Inductees
James Michael ‘Mike’ Myer – 1951-2021
J. Michael Myer was the longtime executive editor of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News- Register. Myer served as executive editor of both publications 23 years.
Prior to that, he was editor of the Wheeling News-Register, a position he assumed in 1991. At the time of his death from COVID, Myer was president of the trustees of the West Virginia Press Association Foundation, the educational non-profit supported by the state’s newspaper industry.
Myer was a past president of the Press Association and winner of the Adam R. Kelly Award, the West Virginia newspaper industry’s highest honor, and numerous editorial and writing awards. His 46-year newspaper career included stints as a reporter, weekly newspaper publisher and editor and then editor of the daily newspapers. Myer was well-known throughout West Virginia and Ohio for his daily editorials and columns that focused on local and state issues.
His colleagues and others in the community also knew him as a family man who loved the Ohio Valley, particularly his native Wetzel County. He had a passion for the great outdoors, often spending vacations camping with his wife, Connie, and their children and grandchildren. He championed many social causes from education to feeding the hungry.
G. Ogden Nutting, publisher of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, said Myer will be best remembered for being a newspaperman.
“For me, he was a close friend, a valued and respected source of good advice and counsel based on sound judgment, values and common sense, and also someone with a good sense of humor,” Nutting said.
“Mike’s love for his family and pride in what his wife Connie and his daughters, Christina and Jessica, accomplished was sincere, great, and obvious,” Nutting added. “The shortest editorial ever written certainly applied to him: ‘A family loved, a community and state served, a life well lived.’”
Nutting added, “In his 46-year career, Mike had various titles: reporter, city editor, publisher, editor and executive editor. Today, he would probably be known as a journalist, but the designation he would have preferred most was simply newspaperman. Yes, a good newspaperman, a very good newspaperman. … I will miss him.”
West Virginia Press Association Executive Director Don Smith said, “Mike has been one of the strongest editorial voices in West Virginia for decades. He won every award possible as a writer, editor and columnist and served as an example and mentor for writers across the state. At the Press Association, he was a respected leader and advisor.
“As president of the Foundation, he was a leader in providing college scholarships and paid internships for journalism students in West Virginia. Mike took great pride in the efforts of the Press Association and the newspaper industry to support students and journalism in West Virginia. Another one of the many highlights of his commitment to the people of this state was leading an effort to gather and deliver Christmas toys for the children of families impacted by the flood that ravished much of West Virginia in November of 1985,” Smith added.
Mary Helen Hedges – 1921-2007
Mary Helen Hedges grew up in Cincinnati, where she attended public and parochial schools in Cincinnati and earned degrees from Stephens College in Columbia, Mo., and Manhattanville College of The Sacred Heart in New York. It was in Cincinnati that she met her future husband, Foster Hedges, while he was stationed there during World War II. They married in 1944, and later moved to his hometown of Spencer, W.Va., upon the completion of his service.
The couple was very active in the community. Hedges worked with handicapped and disadvantaged youth before becoming editor of the Roane County Reporter in 1977. Following her retirement in 1990, she continued as vice president of Spencer Newspapers Inc.
Hedges wrote news and feature articles and a popular weekly column, “Over the Back Fence,” that focused on life in a small town. She received several awards from the WV Press Association for her writing. Hedges was known for being generous, loving, and multi-talented. Together with her husband, she worked to better the community of Spencer. Many attributed the building of the Roane General Hospital and the Holy Redeemer Catholic Church to the efforts of the Hedges.
The Hedges began spending their winters in Florida in the early 1980s. After her husband’s death in 1986, Hedges continued to vacation there on her own. It was there that she suffered a stroke. She was able to return to her beloved home of Spencer to spend the last few months of her life before her death in 2007.
2023 Veterans Class Inductees
William Harper – 1808-1887
William Harper was born in Chambersburg, Pa., in 1808. As a youth he lived in Staunton, Va., and was associated with his brother, Gen. Kenton Harper prominent through his work on the Staunton Spectator. He began his work in Romney establishing the first newspaper in that section, the Hardy and Hampshire Intelligencer (later the South Branch Intelligencer) in 1828, remaining with the paper until his death almost 60 years later.
Delicate in health, retiring in disposition, Harper was a correspondent in the newspaper. He aimed at making his paper a “wholesome influence and welcome visitor in the homes of its readers.”
An advocate of Whig principles until the Civil War, he supported the Democratic Party during and after the great conflict.
The paper totally kept abreast of professional improvements. It continued under his widow’s editorship until 1890 when it was sold to a stock company and merged later with John Cornwell’s Hampshire Review.
Don Marsh – 1927-1999
Don Marsh served as a writer and editor of The Charleston Gazette for 40 years. As Gazette editor, Marsh was known for a biting, often scathing, weekly column that won him a Distinguished Writing Award from the American Society of Newspaper Editors in 1987. Early in his reporting career, he was selected for a Nieman Fellowship, an honor that allowed him to study at Harvard University during the year of 1955.
Marsh joined the Gazette in 1952, at which time he covered the police, city hall, the courthouse and the Statehouse. Among his many assignments were the Widen coal strike, the Holden mine disaster and John F. Kennedy’s 1960 primary campaign in West Virginia. Marsh was forced to retire in 1992 after a near-fatal heart attack, and at this time became a regular commentator on “Talkline,” a talk show on the statewide MetroNews radio network.
“Don was the most intelligent person I ever knew. He had vast knowledge. He read all 11 volumes of Will Durant’s ‘Story of Civilization,'” said James Haught, who succeeded Marsh as Gazette editor. “And he cared passionately about social justice – about improving life for the underdogs. That was the endless theme of his newspaper work, and later his radio commentary.”
Born into a coal mining family, Marsh grew up in Omar, Logan County. The name on his birth certificate was Sidney Roy Marsh, but his family always used the name of a step-grandfather, so he was known as Don Seagle during the first half of his life. He graduated from Logan High School, served in the Navy at the end of World War II, and received a journalism degree from West Virginia University in 1950. He worked briefly for newspapers in Parkersburg and Bluefield before coming to the Charleston Daily Mail in 1951. The following year, he joined the Gazette.
In 1971, Marsh was appointed Gazette city editor. In 1976, Publisher W.E. Chilton III chose him to be editor, succeeding Harry Hoffmann. In a 1992 interview, Marsh said his coal camp background shaped his political thinking. “My attitudes are a reflection of how I grew up. It’s the powerful exploiting the powerless that bothers me as much as anything.” Upon his retirement, the Daily Gazette Co. established a journalism scholarship in Marsh’s honor at West Virginia University. WVU’s Health Sciences Center also set up a scholarship in his honor. Marsh was a strong defender of WVU’s medical school. He received an honorary doctorate from the West Virginia Institute of Technology, and he was named outstanding alumnus by WVU’s School of Journalism.
Joseph H. Mills – (1939-1990)
Joseph Mills served as the owner, editor and publisher of the Wirt County Journal for nearly seven years. Born in Parkersburg, W.Va. in 1939, Mills spent his adolescent and early teen years in Elizabeth, but moved to Ohio to attend Burnham High School in Sylvania, and later the University of Toledo.
A highly spiritual man, Mills pursued a theology degree from the Boston University School of Theology. He worked as an ordained United Methodist minister and pastored churches in Ohio and Massachusetts before returning to West Virginia. He served as director of the Wood County Community Action Association in Parkersburg for some months before being selected by then Governor Arch A. Moore, Jr. to head the West Virginia Office of Economic Opportunity during the years of 1970 to 1977.
At the time of his purchase of the Wirt County Journal in 1983, Mills was serving as an insurance agent in Charleston. In August of 1986, Mills became one of the West Virginia’s pioneers in computer newspaper production when he installed the Apple system. A stickler for accuracy, Mills displayed fairness, enthusiasm, intensity and humor in frequent editorial opinions, especially in a personal weekly column, “Dear Helen,” which reflected his love for his mother and other close family members.
Mills was involved in a serious car accident one early spring morning in 1987, causing him to be permanently confined to an electric wheel chair. Prior to the accident, Mills had walked with the aid of leg braces and the part-time use of a cane or crutches due to his battle with cancer in the early 70s. As a man of great independence, Mills was resilient and continued to drive by use of a specially equipped van.
Mills was a member of the West Virginia Press Association and served as a judge for various award categories. Bill Childress, executive director of the WVPA and good friend of Mills, said that Mills had amazing depth and resources and tremendous personal courage.
“Publishing a weekly newspaper is a tremendous and grueling mental strain, and more so for a person laboring under the conditions that he was,” Childress said in tribute to Mills after his death in 1990.
Samuel Craig Shaw – 1874-1957
Samuel Craig Shaw was publisher of The Moundsville Daily Echo from 1917 until his death. He had been associated with The Echo since its founding by his father in 1895.
Shaw was born in Clarion County, PA, the son of the late Mr. & Mrs. James Davis Shaw who came to West Virginia, settling temporarily in New Martinsville and Middlebourne before becoming permanently established in Moundsville where the elder Shaw founded The Echo.
Samuel Craig Shaw became publisher of the paper upon the death of his father and continued active participation in its operation until his death.
Shaw was active in civic and community affairs of Moundsville and in public life. Earlier he had been active also in Democratic politics.