Beverly man becomes history hero

Jimmy Ray Walters, of Beverly, has been named to the 2013 West Virginia History Heroes.

Walters, 68, who serves on the board of the West Virginia State CCC Museum Association, was one of 48 West Virginia historians receiving the prestigious award.

The award was given Feb. 21 on West Virginia Day at the Legislature, and he was recognized for earning the award during the March 20 meeting of the West Virginia State CCC Museum Association. The meeting took place at Ryan’s Family Steakhouse in Clarksburg.

A native of Maryland, Walters retired as one of the chief carpenters at the White House. He served under five presidents of the United States and has quite a knowledge of White House and presidential history. After retirement, he built a home in Beverly, where he resides today.

The West Virginia State CCC Museum Association nominated Walters, who serves on its board of directors. Walters designed the State CCC float, serves as chairman of that committee and has been a driving force in the organization.

His best friend, the late Albert L. Simmons, a CCC veteran who served at Camp Watoga, inspired Walters to become involved with the State CCC Museum Association. Walters frequently speaks on behalf of the association across the state.

Walters loves West Virginia and the little town of Beverly. He serves on the board of the Sons of the Confederacy. He helps maintain the Mount Iser Confederate Cemetery there. He attends and has worked for the preservation of the Beverly Presbyterian Church, which was built in 1828. He can be seen every week volunteering at the church pantry.

Also during the March 20 meeting, members talked about the 80th Anniversary of the signing of the Civilian Conservation Corps bill into law.

Acting President Charles Piercy conducted the meeting. CCC Hall of Famer Harlen Frederick, of Fairmont, led the invocation. Pat Piercy, of Kingmont, led the pledge. Dr. Robert Anderson, treasurer, gave the financial report. Richard Bailey, secretary, handed out copies of the Feb. 20 minutes. Both reports were adopted.

The association was updated on the program for the statewide celebration of the 80th anniversary day. The annual anniversary day is set for Easter Sunday at the West Virginia State CCC Museum. The event will begin at 2 p.m. at the museum.

The museum is housed in the old Quiet Dell schoolhouse in Harrison County, just off Exit 115 of Interstate 79.

“We invite the public to share with us statewide in celebrating one of the most successful government work programs in American History,” Piercy said. “We are so pleased to have Markie and Mark Shellhammer, of Clarksburg, and Tiffany Thomas, of Bridgeport, providing entertainment for the occasion.”

The program will include a flag-raising ceremony, distinguished guests, refreshments and fellowship. The public can enjoy the museum and the two replica CCC barracks that were moved on the museum site in May 2012. A state and county proclamation will be displayed.

Anderson announced a successful grant from the state of West Virginia through the Harrison County Commission for museum artifact displays. He also said the Harrison County Commission was scheduled Friday to present a proclamation for the 80th anniversary of the CCC proclamation in the Harrison County Commission chambers.

Anderson also noted that the State CCC Museum association has obtained a display table at the annual Mountain State History Expo, which is set for 10 a.m. April 6 at the Marion County Courthouse.

Another important CCC event was briefly discussed. The annual CCC Spring Jubilee is set for 9:30 a.m. April 20 at the Quiet Dell United Methodist Church. Reservations with payment are required by April 12 by calling 304-842-5194 or mailing them to Dr. Anderson at Rt. 3, Box 31, Bridgeport, WV 26330.

Dorothy and Sonny Gunno, of Cross Lanes, presented a handmade redwood replica CCC barracks donation box for the museum.

Piercy said Sonny Gunno carved the beautiful addition for the museum, and it is dedicated to Dorothy Gunno’s father, the late John Harvey Turner, who served in the CCC in the late ’30s at Cacapon State Park in Morgan County.

John Stogran, who served in the CCC along the Virginia Skyline Drive in 1939-41, spoke briefly during the meeting. He will be inducted into the State CCC Hall of Fame on April 20. Stogran and his wife, Clara, are from Suan Terrace.

Walters discussed events surrounding the annual Watoga State Park CCC Reunion, set for June 7.

The next meeting of the CCC Association is set for April 20 during the annual Spring CCC Jubilee at the Quiet Dell United Methodist Church. The next regular meeting will be 11:30 a.m. May 20 at Ryan’s Family Steakhouse in Clarksburg.