WHEELING - Local attorney and former state and international racing commission president Harry L. Buch will be remembered for many things, however his ability to mentor young lawyers may just top the list.
Buch, 83, died Saturday at his Wheeling home. Funeral arrangements are pending at Kepner Funeral Home in Woodsdale.
A Wheeling native, Buch was a graduate of Wheeling Central Catholic High School who obtained his undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Notre Dame.
He is a U.S. Navy veteran who served aboard a destroyer for two years.
He was admitted to practice law in 1955, serving first with Gompers Buch McCarthy and McClure, then with Bailey, Riley, Buch & Harman. Since 2010, he worked at Steptoe & Johnson in Wheeling.
Ann Harmon, who worked with Buch in the 1990s, recalls a man generous with his time and talent, especially for the younger partners in the firm.
"We started working together in the late 1990s at Bailey Riley Buch and Harmon. Harry was a very well-respected attorney and well-respected businessman," Harmon said.
"As a younger woman and new partner in the law firm, he was very important in helping me understand how the law and the business community could work together.
"He instilled in all of us the necessity and importance of being involved in our community, volunteering our time and ability with local charitable organizations. He walked the walk."
Harmon said Buch was of a "special generation" that understands that people really need to get involved.
In 1973 Buch, while overseeing the horse racing industry in the state, successfully advocated for dog racing in West Virginia.
He was named chairman of the West Virginia State Racing Commission, a post he held for several terms.
In 1988, Buch was installed as the president of the Association of Racing Commissioners International which oversees racing nationally and throughout the world.
Buch was an active member of the Ohio County Republican Executive Committee, having been named president in 1968. He was an active member of the community, having served as chairman of the board for the Wheeling Hall of Fame and on advisory boards for several agencies including Oglebay Institute and West Liberty State College.
G. Ogden Nutting, publisher of The Intelligencer and Wheeling News-Register, said while Buch had many interests and involvements in the local community, he enjoyed family life even more.
"Harry was most successful in law, politics, the racing industry and banking. His real love, pure and simply, was his family. He was a loving husband, father and grandfather and will be missed by all who knew and loved him."
Dr. Donald Hofreuter, a longtime friend, said Buch loved taking his children to Notre Dame football games and was truly a family man.
"I've known Harry Buch for many, many years and it was always a pleasure to be with him," Hofreuter commented.
"There was no doubt he had Notre Dame blood circulating ... he was always an update and optimistic person."
Buch was a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates from Ohio County from 1959-64; and alternate delegate to the Republican National Convention from West Virginia in 1972. A Catholic, Buch was a member of the Knights of Columbus, Elks, Jaycees and Civitan.
Among his survivors are his wife, Patricia and their six children, Mary Beth, Joe, Jim, Anne, John and Chris.