(By Mr. Speaker, Mr. Thompson, and Delegates Armstead, Anderson, Ashley, Azinger, Blair, Boggs, Border, Canterbury, Caputo, Carmichael, Cowles, Duke, Ellem, Evans, Fragale, Hamilton, Hatfield, Ireland, Lane, Marshall, McGeehan, C. Miller, Morgan, Overington, Paxton, Perdue, M. Poling, Porter, Romine, Rowan, Schadler, Schoen, Shott, Sobonya, Sumner, Talbott, Webster and White)

[Introduced March 19, 2009]

Celebrating the life and lamenting the death of Cecil H. Underwood, the youngest and oldest Governor of the State of West Virginia, former member and Minority Leader of the House of Delegates from the County of Tyler, longtime community leader, loving father and grandfather, devoted public servant, and a great asset to his State and country.

Whereas, Cecil H. Underwood was born on November 5, 1922, in the small community of Josephs Mills in Tyler County, the youngest of five children of Silas H. and Della Forrester Underwood; and
Whereas, In 1944, one year following his graduation from Salem College, Cecil entered politics at the age of 22 when he successfully ran as a Republican for the West Virginia House of Delegates representing Tyler County. He served in the House for twelve years, becoming Minority Leader in 1949. After eight years in that post, he announced his run for Governor on January 4, 1956; and
Whereas, Cecil Underwood was elected Governor in 1956 at the age of thirty-four, the youngest person ever elected Governor of West Virginia; and
Whereas, Cecil Underwood recognized the impact of a modern highway system on the American way of life and broke ground on sections of Interstate 64 in 1957 and Interstate 77 and Interstate 81 in 1958 to become known as the "Father of West Virginia's Interstate Highway System"; and
Whereas, During his first term as Governor, Cecil Underwood also reduced costs by mandating the competitive bidding process for all state purchases, established the Department of Mental Health, continued the nonviolent desegregation of the state's schools, advocated an organized civil service and retirement pension system, and developed the State Temporary Employment Program, or STEP, to provide assistance to coal miners laid off as machines replaced manual labor; and
Whereas, Always a futurist who saw advancements in technology as a way to provide opportunities for the people of West Virginia, Cecil Underwood proposed a plan for the gasification of coal through the use of nuclear energy in 1960; and
Whereas, In 1996, Cecil Underwood was elected the 32nd Governor of West Virginia on his seventy-fourth birthday to become the oldest person ever elected governor in West Virginia; and
Whereas, During his second term, Cecil Underwood dedicated his endless energy and intellect to ensuring that jobs were created, roads built and paved, and technology implemented in schools and senior centers to help West Virginia's citizens realize their dreams here in his beloved state; and
Whereas, Always a teacher, Cecil Underwood began his career as a high school biology teacher and, after his last term in office, was an adjunct professor at Marshall University. He received a BA from Salem College and a MA from West Virginia University. He was working on a Ph.D. in political science at West Virginia University when he decided to abandon the degree and run for governor in 1956; and
Whereas, During the time between his terms as governor, Cecil Underwood was President of Bethany State College and worked at Island Creek Coal Company, Monsanto Corporation and New York Life Insurance Company; and
Whereas, Cecil Underwood was predeceased by the love of his life, Hovah Hall Underwood, in 2004 following fifty-six years of marriage; and
Whereas, Cecil and Hovah were the proud parents of two daughters, Cecilia and Sharon, and a son, Craig, all of whom survive him. He is also survived by six grandchildren, Chris, Coleman, Mary, Quintin, Jordan and Myles; and
Whereas, Cecil Underwood was a man of integrity, wit and humor who enjoyed his service to his fellow West Virginians and inspired others to follow his example of honesty and public service; and
Whereas, As a further and lasting legacy, Cecil and Hovah Underwood directed that their bodies be donated to science so that, even in death, they continued to serve their fellow West Virginians; and
Whereas, Cecil Underwood was a gentleman, a statesman, an educator and a first class leader who served the State of West Virginia with honor and dignity and dedicated his entire life to the causes of people around him, it is the resolved sense of this Legislature that the life and death of Cecil H. Underwood must not go unnoticed; therefore, be it
Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the West Virginia Legislature acknowledges the extraordinary and exemplary life of Cecil H. Underwood, educator, businessman and public servant, who touched the lives of countless West Virginians; a man who loved his family and the State of West Virginia; that this House collectively celebrates, honors and remembers his commitment to public service and to the people of the State of West Virginia while solemnly noting his death, and hereby enrolls his life in the history of the Legislature of West Virginia; and, be it
Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates forward a certified copy of this resolution to his children, Cecilia Underwood Baker, Sharon Underwood, and Craig Underwood; 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.