Moler made his mark on Jefferson Countyy

July 19, 2004|by DAVE McMILLION

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - James M. Moler is a man of many firsts.

As a state lawmaker from Jefferson County from 1973 to 1980, the longtime Charles Town resident was the first person to make sure that Jefferson County received a portion of revenues from Charles Town Races & Slots.

Moler won support in the state Legislature for his proposal that local government receive one-tenth of 1 percent of track revenue.

Back then, that amounted to about $100,000 a year for county government.

Today, with the addition of slot machines at the track, local governments have been receiving up to $6 million a year.


Teaching school during the Depression in Jefferson County, Moler became concerned about the plight of needy children.

Moler said he started the first student lunch program at Wright Denny Intermediate School and the Charles Town school became a model institution while Moler was its principal.

Moler became active in Kiwanis International because of the group's work to help disadvantaged children and he once went to Europe to set up Kiwanis governing bodies.

Moler left his mark in higher education, too.

After his 20-year career at Wright Denny that began in 1939, Moler said he was approached by the state superintendent of schools and officials at then-Shepherd College about joining Shepherd's public teacher program. Shepherd was in charge of providing public schoolteachers for an eight-county area, and Moler took a position that involved developing relationships between the college and the school systems.

Moler was at Shepherd for 13 years and a dormitory at the school bears his name today.

"He's a remarkable man," said Mary Via, executive director of the Jefferson County Chamber of Commerce.

Via said Moler always believed that every child should have an advanced form of education, whether it is college or some other type of learning. Moler believed it was important to identify abilities in every child and shape them through education.

Because of his accomplishments, Moler was named Distinguished Citizen of Jefferson County during a June 30 awards banquet sponsored by the Chamber.

"I did everything I wanted to do," the 94-year-old Moler said during an interview at his South Seminary Street home.

When asked what the secret is to his longevity, he replied, "24-hour-a-day jobs."

"I never had a job I didn't like," Moler said.

Although he had numerous accomplishments, Moler said his most enjoyable experience was teaching elementary school.

Moler said teaching elementary schoolchildren is tops because of their eagerness and optimism.

Moler started his teaching career as principal of Bakerton School in 1932 and became principal of Millville School in 1933. The two elementary schools no longer exist.

Moler's interests and activities ran the gamut.

He is a former president of the West Virginia School Principals, the Jefferson County Education Association and the West Virginia Education Association. He also served as senior vice president of Blakeley Bank and Trust Co.

Moler is listed in the Who's Who in American Education and was a co-founder of the Shepherd College Foundation, the fund-raising arm of the school, which is now Shepherd University.

Moler grew up in the Zoar area, which is north of Charles Town near the Job Corps facility.

Moler said he attended a one-room school and grew up on a farm operated by his parents.

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