2017-03-15 / Front Page

Widmyer named state History Hero

by Kate Shunney


Fred Widmyer, center, is recognized as a West Virginia History Hero by State Archives and History Commission Chairman Harold Forbes and Gayle Manchin, Secretary of Education and the Arts. photo courtesy of West Virginia Division of Culture and History Fred Widmyer, center, is recognized as a West Virginia History Hero by State Archives and History Commission Chairman Harold Forbes and Gayle Manchin, Secretary of Education and the Arts. photo courtesy of West Virginia Division of Culture and History Fred Widmyer of Berkeley Springs was one of 39 state residents recognized last week in Charleston for their dedication to the cause of preserving West Virginia history.

At a March 9 ceremony in the State Theater at the West Virginia Culture Center, state arts and history officials honored members of local historical societies, history foundation members, teachers and others who have helped gather and share historical knowledge around the Mountain State. The event was part of West Virginia History Day at the West Virginia Legislature, and is now in its 21st year.

The Morgan County Historical and Genealogical Society nominated Widmyer for the annual award.

Widmyer was president of the historical group from 2007 to 2014. He continues to be a member and works on a number of projects, from sorting through the group’s records at the Morgan Room in the Morgan County Public Library to making digital archives of the research done by volunteers and families.

“I loved history from the word go,” Widmyer said of his interest and volunteerism. “The older I get, the more it appeals to me,” he joked.

Morgan County historian and state History Hero Kathern Allemong recruited Widmyer to join the Historical Society somewhere around 2003. Fred and wife Patricia Widmyer had moved to Berkeley Springs in December 2001 after a life and career spent mostly in the Cumberland area.

Widmyer is the son of Morgan County natives George Widmyer and Lowell Elaine Bartlett. His father was a Methodist minister and his mother’s father was as well.

Work took the Widmyer family to Cumberland, where Fred attended high school and met Patricia, a native of Preston County.

After high school, Widmyer got a job at Kelly Springfield, and he worked for the tire company for 37 years. That career brought Widmyer into contact with computers during their early years of development and use for industrial automation.

Widmyer served as the company’s Systems Coordinator as computers were used more widely in tire production and then in tire stores around the country.

Technological aptitude was part of what earned Widmyer recognition as a History Hero. The Historical and Genealogical Society credited Widmyer for his efforts to digitize the group’s microfilm records. He has also made an effort to back up and preserve all computerized records on a variety of media.

Widmyer was also honored for leading an oral history project, managing the historical society’s collection of books and records, and spearheading the replacement of 50 historical markers around the Town of Bath. Those markers were originally installed in 1976 under an effort by Betty Harmison to mark the Bicentennial. Harmison is another local History Hero.

“I think we, as a Society, have accomplished a lot,” Widmyer said. As for the History Hero designation, Widmyer said he takes that recognition on behalf of other local history volunteers.

“I think it was a great honor. It was a great honor for the Society, because we work as a group,” he said.

The next historical project he expects to tackle will be sorting through the research and papers of the late Betty Ditto, the longtime Historical and Genealogical Society volunteer.

In addition to his volunteer work with the Morgan County Historical and Genealogical Society, Widmyer is very active with the Shriners Ali Ghan in Cumberland and serves as the Chairman of the Board of Governors for the Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Philadelphia.

Fred and Pat Widmyer, who have been married for 52 years, have two children and three grandchildren and live in Berkeley Springs.

Return to top

I am so glad to learn Morgan

I am so glad to learn Morgan County has dedicated people who are ensuring that its history is being preserved. While preserving important events are important, I believe that it can be just as important to preserve small everyday events also.