Former WV Governor Cecil Underwood Passes Away

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Charleston, W.Va. (AP) -- Former West Virginia Gov. Cecil H. Underwood has died.

He was 86.

Gov. Joe Manchin's office confirmed the death Monday.

Details weren't immediately available.

Underwood was the state's youngest Governor when he won his first term in 1956 at age 34.

His second term, won on his 74th birthday in 1996, made him the oldest.

Underwood held a number of jobs between his terms as Governor, including stints at Huntington-based Island Creek Coal Co., Monsanto Corp. and the New York Life Insurance Company.

He was preceded in death by former first lady Hovah Hall Underwood in 2004.

Gov. Manchin's issued the following statement shortly after the announcement of Gov. Underwood's death:

"This is a very sad day for all of West Virginia. We have lost a governor who, through two separate terms, served our state and its citizens with honor and dignity and, most importantly, class. We have also lost a dear friend.

"Gov. Underwood was loved as a father, grandfather and husband, and when he lost his beloved wife, Hovah, we all knew that things would never be the same for him. They've now been reunited and I'm sure that I speak for all West Virginians in sending our thoughts and prayers out to the entire Underwood family."

Bob Wise, president of the Alliance for Excellent Education and former governor of West Virginia, has issued the following statement in reaction to Gov. Cecil Underwood’s death:

“I am very sorry to learn of Governor Underwood’s death. He devoted his entire life to West Virginia in many different ways—as its chief executive, in education, and in business. He left a legacy that in so many ways has improved life for generations of West Virginians. He constantly demonstrated how to govern effectively in a bipartisan manner. He was a gentleman in the finest sense of the word, and we all give thanks for his public service. Sandy and I express our deepest condolences to the Underwood family for the loss of this true public servant.”

Senator Jay Rockefeller today released the following statement regarding the passing of former Governor Cecil Underwood:

“Governor Underwood was a man of profound faith, a forward-looking leader, and a public servant in the truest sense. He’ll be remembered as someone who dedicated his entire life and career to the causes of people around him. I always enjoyed working with him on opportunities to move our state forward. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and far-reaching community of friends.”

U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd, D-W.Va., Monday released the following statement after learning of the passing of Governor Cecil Underwood:

“Erma and I were friends with Cecil and Hovah Underwood for more than 50 years. They were both wonderful people. I fondly remember celebrating my 80th birthday at the Governor’s Mansion with the Underwoods. A devoted public servant, Cecil’s many contributions to the great state of West Virginia will never be forgotten. Those of us fortunate enough to call him a friend will always remember his engaging personality and personal warmth. Today, my thoughts are with the Underwood family and with all West Virginians who are mourning the passing of a great and decent man.”

(Copyright 2008 by the Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

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