House Concurrent Resolution 126
(By Delegates Mahan, Mr. Speaker (Mr. Thompson), Barill, Barker, Boggs, Brown, Butcher, Campbell, D., Campbell, T., Cann, Caputo, Craig, Crosier, Diserio, Doyle, Ferns, Ferro, Fleischauer, Fragale, Frazier, Givens, Guthrie, Hall, Hartman, Hatfield, Hunt, Iaquinta, Jones, Lawrence, Longstreth, Manchin, Manypenny, Marcum, Marshall, Martin, Michael, Miley, Moore, Morgan, Moye, Paxton, Perdue, Perry, Pethtel, Phillips, L., Phillips, R., Pino, Poling, D., Poling, M., Poore, Reynolds, Rodighiero, Shaver, Skaff, Smith, Staggers, Stephens, Stowers, Swartzmiller, Talbott, Varner, Walker, Wells, White and Williams)
[Introduced, Taken Up and Adopted by Unanimous Vote of the House on March 8, 2012]
“Celebrating the life and lamenting the passing of Hulett C. Smith, the Twenty-Seventh Governor of the State of West Virginia, outstanding civic and community leader, the state’s first Commissioner of Commerce, a veteran of World War II, a loving father and grandfather, and devoted public servant to the people of his State and country.”
WHEREAS, The people of West Virginia were saddened to learn of the passing of former Governor Hulett C. Smith on January 15 at the age of 93 in Scottsdale, Arizona, where he had moved last fall to be with family.
Hulett Carlson Smith was born in Beckley in 1918, the son of the late Congressman Joe L. Smith and Mrs. Smith, was a graduate of Woodrow Wilson High School and the Wharton School of Finance and Commerce at the University of Pennsylvania; a lieutenant in the United States Navy during World War II; and active in banking, health care, insurance and the arts until his death.
In 1942, he married the late Mary Alice Tieche of Beckley, who passed away in 1987, and they were the parents of six children; and in 1990, he married Nancy Pat Lewis of Beckley, who passed away in 2009.
Governor Smith was a nationally-elected Vice President of the United States Jaycees before serving as West Virginia’s first Commissioner of Commerce and a lifelong leader in the Presbyterian Church.
He was elected Governor in 1964 with the greatest majority in 16 years, and his opponent in that election, Republican Cecil H. Underwood, a former and future governor, and he would become lifelong friends and work in a bi-partisan fashion on education programs for West Virginia students well into their 80s.
Governor Smith signed into law the bill abolishing the death penalty in 1965, which he called his proudest achievement, keeping a promise made during his gubernatorial campaign; endorsed the “Modern Budget Amendment;” oversaw many crises, including the Silver Bridge collapse, the Mannington Mine Disaster, the loss of hundreds of West Virginians in the Vietnam War; and the turbulent political confrontations and assassinations in the 1960s.
Governor Smith launched major environmental initiatives to regulate strip mining and air pollution and increased funding for pre-school and university programs, and created a “Government-to-the-People” program, taking department heads to 16 communities during his single term and was instrumental in the creation of West Virginia Public Broadcasting and programs in the arts and humanities that led state leaders to name the theatre at Tamarack in Beckley in his honor.
Hulett Smith was described by West Virginia gubernatorial historian and former Charleston Gazette Statehouse reporter John W. Morgan as a man who “compiled a record of achievements that made the state a better place in which to live, work, play and go to school,” and former Charleston Daily Mail reporter Robert Mellace described him as a governor with a record “that is remarkable and will stand for a long time, much longer than the words of his critics [and] . . . the record will show no man ever tried harder to do good and few accomplished more in the time allotted him in the governor’s office”; therefore, be it
Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Legislature acknowledges the extraordinary and exemplary life of Hulett C. Smith -- civic leader, businessman and public servant -- who improved the lives of countless West Virginians and led this state as its governor during difficult times without complaint and always with grace; and that this House collectively celebrates, honors and remembers his service while lamenting his passing; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates forward a certified copy of this resolution to his children -- Carolyn Sheets, Alice Christine Merritt, Suzaine Smith and Paul Smith; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates also cause a certified copy of this resolution to be placed in the Division of Archives and History.