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Former legislator Moler dies at 95

"A man for all humans"

"A man for all humans"

August 06, 2005|By HEATHER KEELS

heatherk@herald-mail.com

CHARLES TOWN, W.Va. - "I've enjoyed my life," 95-year-old former West Virginia legislator James M. Moler said at a May 22 ceremony honoring his contributions to the community, less than three months before his life would come to an end Thursday.

And what a life it was.

"He was a man who, until the very end, lived life very fully and very actively," said Pete Dougherty, a friend of Moler and fellow member of the Charles Town Kiwanis Club. "He could well be credited with doing more in retirement to contribute to the health and well-being of the community than most of us do during our active lives."

Moler expanded the Kiwanis Club's community service into Asia as president of Kiwanis International from 1967 to 1968 and ensured that Jefferson County would receive money from Charles Town Races & Slots as a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates from 1973 to 1980, but those who knew him agree that his greatest contribution was to education.

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A former teacher, principal of three Jefferson County schools and educational services coordinator at Shepherd College, Moler was devoted to improving education and providing educational opportunities.

"You can't talk to anybody who was around education in Jefferson County who doesn't talk about James Moler," said Dougherty, who also is a former Jefferson County Board of Education member.

Moler organized the first regional education unit in West Virginia, which combined the state's eight eastern counties and worked to promote curriculum improvement. As a member of the Kiwanis, he helped to establish an emphasis on academic achievement through an award the club gives to the county's top eighth-grade students.

He also helped organize the Shepherd College Foundation, a group that raises scholarship money and assists the college and its programs, serving as its president for the first 35 years.

"Dr. Moler was a man for all humans," said the foundation's current president, James M. Davis. "He never met people he didn't like, particularly people who needed help, and he would work to help other individuals fulfill their dreams."

Long before the current administration dreamed up No Child Left Behind, Moler devoted himself to his conviction that every young person should have an opportunity to attend college, Davis said.

Davis guessed that between 3,500 and 4,000 students received assistance from Moler during his time at the foundation, but Dougherty said the number of lives Moler touched is much higher.

"Many people he helped may not even realize he was the person to do that, which is the greatest testament to the kind of spirit he was," Dougherty said.

Moler is survived by his wife of 70 years, Katherine Watson Moler; a sister, Mary M. Snyder of Arlington, Va., and two nephews. Services will be Monday at 11 a.m. at the Asbury United Methodist Church in Charles Town.

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