World traveler calls Philippi home

Submitted photo Dr. Kenneth Yount and his wife Carol are shown in Antartica, one of many locations around the globe that Yount has visited.

PHILIPPI — Dr. Kenneth H. Yount has lived in the Philippi community for more than 50 years, and he can still often be seen as he goes about his daily activities there. Yet few people that he encounters would imagine the places he has been, the people he has seen, or the things he has accomplished.

Yount has explored every corner of the earth, in all seven continents. He has traveled in all 50 U.S. states and every province of Canada; throughout Mexico; in all but one of the states in Australia, both islands of New Zealand, and the jungles of northeastern India and northern Thailand, Africa and much of South America.

He has been to the frozen wastes of both the Arctic Ocean in the north and Antarctica in the south, and he has made 15 trips to Europe, encompassing 500 days and well over half of the 50 countries there.

Throughout those travels he has spoken to a crowd of more than 100,000 people in India (also broadcast live on Indian television); given the main Sunday morning sermon, in Spanish, in the largest protestant church in a Bolivian city of over a million people; been named the “poet laureate” of Antarctica after winning a poetry contest held among 189 expeditionists there; met the British prime minister while studying at Oxford; attended audiences with two different popes, and been invited to the private home of the president of the United States and spent an hour in a one-on-one conversation about American government and politics with the president.

But at the end of his travels, Yount always returns to Philippi, where he and his wife Carol have raised three daughters (Catherine Mullens, an attorney, Sarah Ferguson, an artist and teacher, and Mary Beth McCloy, a minister, teacher and writer), along with 11 grandchildren and two great grandchildren.

Yount, who was a National Merit Scholar, attended six colleges and universities, graduating with top honors. He worked for the United States government next to the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and edited two different daily newspapers. He then came to Philippi and became a professor at Alderson Broaddus University, also serving five years there as provost and vice president for academic affairs. His fellow deans in a five-state area elected him chair of the Appalachian College Deans.

He loved teaching and loved his students, and they returned the favor, eight times naming him the outstanding professor at the Philippi university, including his winning the collegewide “Outstanding Professor of the Year” award in 2012, with a $2,000 prize, and being named by the students five times as their nominee to the statewide Faculty Merit Outstanding Professor of the Year program. In that prestigious competition, he was a statewide finalist four times, and in 2013 was named statewide runner up, with a $2,500 prize. He has also been honored on the floor of the West Virginia legislature for his contributions to education in the state.

Just before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Yount and his wife were exploring South America for the third time, in Ecuador, Chile, the Galapagos Islands, and among the giant stone heads on Easter Island. The pandemic slowed their travels, but Yount used the lockdown time well,to write eight more books (to add to the four he previously published). Two of the new ones are off the press, three more are publication ready, and three more are in various stages of completion. Yount also writes a daily journal which he has kept for 60 years.

While in Philippi, he has served as president of the Philippi Kiwanis club, and helped raise thousands of dollars which were donated to youth organizations and activities. He served as a deacon, chair of the school of missions, and chair of the nominating committee at Philippi Baptist Church, as well as serving as moderator for the larger Union Baptist Association. He was Barbour County representative to the Region VII Planning and Development Council, and on the Philip Barbour High School and Barbour County educational advisory commissions.

Of all the great places he has visited, when asked about the best place to live and to raise a family, his answer is always the same — West Virginia.


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