Wheeling Hall of Fame Induction Held

WHEELING – The five newest inductees into the Wheeling Hall of Fame hail from very different backgrounds, but all share one common attribute – they have loved calling Wheeling their home and hope their future generations continue in their footsteps.

The latest inductees include the late Rosemary Front, Stanley Romanoski and Augustus Pollack, and current Wheeling residents Marc Harshman and G. Ogden Nutting. The Hall of Fame committee held a banquet Saturday at WesBanco Arena where the inductees will soon find their photos on the wall, joining dozens of others who have made their indelible marks on The Friendly City.

– Front, a polio survivor who became a champion for people with disabilities, was elected to the Wheeling Hall of Fame in the Public Service category. Born in Wheeling in 1940, she attended Wheeling Country Day School and graduated from Triadelphia High School.

She earned a bachelor’s degree from Southern Illinois University and a master’s degree from Wayne State University. She received an honorary doctorate from Wheeling Jesuit University.

As a speech pathologist, Front was employed at the Wheeling Society for Crippled Children from 1966-68. She was the first professional chief executive officer at the society, which became the Easter Seal Rehabilitation Center. She led the organization from 1969-98. She also was executive director of the West Virginia Easter Seal Society for three years.

Front utilized a wheelchair after contracting polio, but remained active in the community. A member of Temple Shalom in Wheeling, she was busy organizing the Hadassah chapter’s Chocolate Extravaganza fundraiser until days before her death in 2009. She is remembered as someone who “sat taller in her wheelchair than many of us ever stood on two feet.”

Ira S. Latimer Jr. from Charleston, Front’s first cousin, accepted the award on her behalf. He recalled Front as a young girl who was “active and cheerful,” and despite contracting polio at age 13, went on to do great things. He said following a long period of recuperation, including spending time in an “iron lung,” Front did not allow her inability to walk stop her from achieving success and happiness in life.

“Her strength was her determination … she would not be deterred from doing what she wanted,” Latimer commented. “I miss Rosemary. She was always a bright spot at our family reunions. She was the one who remembered everyone’s names. In honoring her life, you’re honoring her family.”

– Harshman, West Virginia’s seventh poet laureate, has been elected to the Wheeling Hall of Fame in the Music and Fine Arts category. He is the first poet laureate from the Northern Panhandle and has published three chapbooks of poetry and a recent full-length collection, “Green-Silver and Silent,” spanning 30 years of work. He also is an award-winning author of 11 nationally recognized children’s books. He is a lecturer, workshop leader and professional storyteller.

A native of Indiana, Harshman has lived most of his adult life in the Northern Panhandle. He said that his three decades in West Virginia are “a singular blessing” to his writer’s life.

After residing in Marshall County for many years, he and his wife, Cheryl Ryan Harshman, and their daughter, Sarah, moved to Wheeling in 2001.

Before turning his attention to writing full-time, Harshman taught in Marshall County elementary schools from 1986-1997.

In accepting the award, Harshman said Wheeling has been “the anchor to all my homes since 1969.” He touted the city’s various venues for the arts, from its symphony to its art galleries, and was in awe at the various authors, including James Wright, who walked its streets in years past.

“Wheeling has been an amazing place for a long time, and holds promise for a bright future,” Harshman said.

– Nutting, publisher of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, has been elected in the Business, Industry and Professions category. The family’s Ogden Newspapers dates to 1890 when Nutting’s grandfather, H.C. Ogden, started the Wheeling Daily News. In 1968, Nutting became the family’s third generation to direct and manage the company.

Nutting also is recognized as a strong contributor to the community. He is a member of the Wheeling Park Commission, and serves on the Board of Trustees of both Bethany College and The Linsly School. He is a former member of the Visiting Committee of the West Virginia University School of Journalism and was on the board of directors of the WVU Foundation.

He and his wife, Betty Woods Nutting, have two sons, William and Robert, who are the fourth generation of the family to direct The Ogden Newspapers. Six grandchildren complete the family.

Before accepting his award, Nutting took a moment to express his admiration for fellow honoree Front, calling her “extra special” for having overcome many hurdles as a handicapped woman to become a successful CEO and beloved member of the community.

In accepting his award, Nutting paid tribute to the five generations of his family that have built and continue their strong newspaper heritage, beginning with his grandfather, H.C. Ogden, who was inducted into the city’s Hall of Fame in 1982. He said his grandfather “established our family’s connection to the newspaper industry” after borrowing several thousand dollars to start the Wheeling Daily News.

That connection continues today in the hands of his sons. Robert Nutting last week was named chairman of the Newspaper Association of America, the first West Virginian to head the organization; and William Nutting recently completed his leadership of the Southern Newspaper Publishers Association and serves on the board of the Associated Press.

Nutting added said he is counting on his grandchildren, representing the fifth generation, “to continue what their fathers are doing so successfully today.” He also thanked his wife and praised her work as a “young preservationist.”

– Pollack, a German immigrant and famed businessman, has been elected posthumously in the Business, Industry and Professions category. He was born in Germany in 1830, and emigrated to the United States at age 18. He settled in Baltimore and opened a notions and fancy goods business that he moved to Wheeling in 1854.

He established another business in Grafton, W.Va., in 1858. Pollack moved to Wheeling permanently in 1860 and lived with his family above his Main Street business. He resided in Wheeling until his death on April 23, 1906. His signature business, Crown Stogies, was founded in 1871 and located in East Wheeling.

His factory, spanning 18th and 19th streets from Chapline to Eoff streets, was one of the largest cigar factories in the world. A German Jew, Pollack was an active member of Wheeling’s German immigrant community. He helped to establish a German language newspaper, The Patriot, and served as president of the German Bank and German Fire Insurance companies.

Frank Ellis, president of the Ohio Valley Trades and Labor Assembly, accepted the award on behalf of Pollack. He remarked how his own grandfather was a stogie roller for Pollack’s factory where one worker would read The Intelligencer to the other stogie rollers as they worked. Ellis said Pollack was a successful businessman because he respected the workers and they returned that respect with hard work.

“He provided wonderful working conditions and was a friend to the unions,” Ellis noted. A statue honoring Pollack is located near the Fort Henry Bridge on Main Street.

– Romanoski, a statewide ambassador and coaching pioneer for track and field and cross country, has been elected to the Wheeling Hall of Fame in the Sports and Athletics category.

Romanoski hailed from Homestead, Pa. His family relocated to Wheeling in 1923 and resided in the Overbrook area of Elm Grove.

Romanoski, a 1936 graduate of Triadelphia High School, had a 40-year coaching career in West Virginia capped by a 24-year tenure from 1957-81 as head men’s track and field and cross country coach at West Virginia University. He promoted running and track and field year-round while traveling the state in the summers to assist local coaches with competitions, clinics and meets.

As the Mountaineer head coach, he piloted more All-America trackmen (seven) than any other WVU coach. Romanoski’s WVU track teams were 70-39-1 while the cross country team records were 128-64. He coached three Southern Conference cross country title teams that advanced to the NCAA tournament.

He also has been inducted into the West Virginia University Sports Hall of Fame and the West Virginia Sports Hall of Fame. He died on June 26, 2004.

Two of Romanoski’s former accomplished players, Mike Mosser and Dave Tork, offered favorite stories from their days under his tutelage.

“Coach Romo was a very dedicated coach and we didn’t always appreciate him. He was ahead of his time because he outlawed large soft drinks for us before Mayor Bloomberg,” Mosser said.

Tork, a Wheeling resident, added, “In sports you’re blessed to have a coach who loved the sport and also was a product of it. It was in Coach Stan’s blood. He did everything he could to promote track and field across the state.”