CHARLESTON, W.VA. — Two weekly newspaper publishers, each of whom worked more than 30 years providing community journalism for local residents, are entering the West Virginia Press Association’s Hall of Fame as the Class of 2019.
John C. Ailes (1913-1991) of the Hampshire Review and Charles R. ‘Randy’ Cline (1933-2001) of the Pineville Independent Herald will be inducted into the Hall of Fame during a special luncheon at the WVPA’s annual convention at Lakeview Resort on Saturday, Aug. 2.
Every other year, the member newspapers of the WVPA elect two members to the Hall of Fame from a slate of four nominees presented by the Hall of Fame Committee. The members of the Hall are honored at the annual convention and with a display at the Reed College of Media at West Virginia University.
The four nominees this year included Ailes, Cline, John Andrew Grose (1864-1943) of the Braxton Democrat and Marg Hood ((1931-2000) of The Piedmont Herald.
The nominees were selected by the Hall of Fame Committee: Dean Diana Martinelli, WVU Reed College of Media; Ogden Nutting, Ogden Newspapers; Phoebe Heishman, Moorefield Examiner; Frank Wood, retired, The Register-Herald of Beckley; and Don Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Press Association.
“All of the nominees this year received strong support from the membership,” Smith said. “We are thrilled that John C. Ailes and Randy Cline will comprise the Class of 2019, but its rewarding to know that nominees John Andrew Grose and Marg Hood also had support from the membership. All four were worthy of this honor. According to bylaws, Gross and Hood will be eligible again in 2023.
Here are the biographies for the two inductees of the Class of 2019:
John C. Ailes – (1913-1991)
John Ailes worked as the editor and publisher of The Hampshire Review from 1953 until his death. Raised in Scarsborough, NY, Ailes attended both Princeton University and West Virginia University while pursuing a law degree. After passing the bar exam, Ailes began practicing law in Romney, W.Va., the hometown of his mother’s family: the Cornwells.
Ailes traveled to Romney often as a child when visiting his grandfather, John Jacob Cornwell, former governor of West Virginia and state senator. Cornwell’s family owned and operated The Hampshire Review, the paper that Ailes would eventually oversee for nearly 50 years. The Cornwell family acquired The Hampshire Review in 1890, and it continues to be operated by Cornwell descendants to this day.
Following the outbreak of World War II, Ailes enlisted in the Army in 1941. However, before his infantry went overseas in 1942, Ailes married Ann Yoke, a native of Parkersburg. He served as an infantry officer in both North Africa and Italy, and was ultimately awarded a Bronze Star for his service.
Upon his grandfather’s death in 1953, Ailes inherited the position of editor for the family newspaper. His wife, Anne, became Associate Editor. Anne ultimately became very active in her role, as Ailes devoted much of his time to various military and community activities. In the 1960s, Ailes served as a public information officer for the Army Rifle and Pistol team at Camp Perry, Ohio. He also organized and served as the first commander of the Romney Reserve Unit, now known as the 351st Ordnance Company.
Ailes stayed on the move and enjoyed being active. He balanced his time between writing for the Review and serving as a public figure for the city of Romney. He sat on the board of directors for Hampshire Memorial Hospital, where he also served as an administrator. In 1970, Ailes won first place in the Better Newspaper Contest for single best editorial. During the 1970s he also served as a media representative for the National Rifle Association, of which he was a lifelong member. In 1974 Ailes retired from the Army Reserve as a lieutenant colonel, after dedicating 33 years of his life to the service.
At the time of his death, Ailes sat on the board of directors for the Bank of Romney; chaired the Zoning Appeals Board for Romney; and was a member of the West Virginia Bar Association and the West Virginia Law Review. According to his daughter, Sallie, Ailes loved politics and “taking the politicians to task on a weekly basis.”
Charles R. “Randy” Cline – (1933-2001)
Randy Cline, born Aug. 8, 1933, in Pineville, W.Va., dedicated his life to serving his community through the newspaper industry. Cline was the owner and published of the Pineville Independent Herald for more than 32 years, and The Gilbert Times for 15 years.
Cline attended Glenville State College and was a graduate of King College in Bristol, Tenn. After serving in the Korean War, Cline pursued his career as a businessman. He worked for Delta Airlines, managing three terminals in major cities. He also traveled extensively as a representative of Pro-Shu golf shoes.
Cline returned to his home in Wyoming County, where he stayed for the remainder of his life. He was elected to the West Virginia House of Delegates and served as communications director for John D. Rockefeller IV. He also served as the executive secretary of the West Virginia Press Association. He was a member of the Gilbert Presbyterian Church, and an executive board member of the Larry Joe Harless Community Center Foundation. Cline was known for his tireless efforts in making the community center a reality for his county.
Governor Cecil H. Underwood paid Cline a tribute at his death. “The name Charles ‘Randy’ Cline has been synonymous with service to the community,” he said. “Through his ownership and management of community-based newspapers in southern West Virginia, Mr. Cline has made a lasting contribution to his readership.”
Cline’s weekly “Growin’ Up” column was admired and well-known through the community. In his column, Cline shared stories from his boyhood days in southern West Virginia. His quick wit and sense of humor earned him the nickname of “The Will Rogers of Wyoming County.”
Here are the biographies for the other two nominees for the Class of 2019:
John Andrew Grose – (1864-1943)
Born and reared in Nicholas County, John Grose got his first job when he was 17 on the Nicholas Chronicle at Summersville. He learned the printer’s trade and in 1885 bought an interest in the Braxton Democrat at Sutton.
He was a constant crusader, who fought high tariffs, opposed the “hocus-pocus” system of the Electoral College, supported the Woman’s Christian Temperance Union, campaigned for Grover Cleveland, and in general kept his readers abreast of national events.
Grose was instrumental in bringing the railway to Sutton in 1891. He then devoted much of his time to telling his readers that the coming of the railway meant they would have to be more than citizens of “a sleepy little town.”
He was associated with the Democrats until his death, except during the period of the 1889-1893 when he returned to Nicholas County and bought The Chronicle, which he ran with his brother, D.O. Grose.
Grose was known as a fearless advocate of the Democratic Party and as one who sought to make his community a progressive town despite its small size.
Marg Hood – (1931-2000)
Although a Frostburg, Md., native, Marg Hood (Margaret J. (Hendley) Hood) made the Tri-Town region of Piedmont, W.Va., her adopted home as editor and co-owner of The Piedmont Herald with her husband, Bill.
The Hoods purchased The Piedmont Herald — the primary source of the news for the
Tri-Town region of Piedmont, W. Va., Westernport, Md., and Luke, Md. — from BillHood’s friend, May Rose, in 1969. Before purchasing, Marg had worked as a typesetter for the paper for 12 years, and Bill had worked there for 20 years.
The Hoods spent the majority of their adult, married lives helping write the history of the Tri-Towns. They together covered every local event, ranging from a whistle stop visit during President Harry S. Truman’s reelection campaign to Little League Baseball games.
It was Marg, however, who put her editorial stamp on the paper, making a name for herself as the Tri-Towns’ most outspoken advocate. Marg’s most notable crusade was her fight to save Bruce High School from closure. When the Environmental Protection Agency announced its plan to close down the local pulp and paper mill, Hood went to bat and fought for the mill to remain operational.
Together, the Hoods were a dynamic newspaper duo. Marg was the brains, serving as the Piedmont Herald’s visionary and content creator, and Bill was the brawn, operating the print shop. With the couple’s combined effort, the Herald grew to a 14-person staff and circulated 4,000 papers to the Tri-Towns and surrounding areas.
Marg was a revered community member and poured much energy into the Tri- Towns Chamber of Commerce, Piedmont Housing Board, Mineral County Health Department Board of Directors, Mineral County Humane Society and the Piedmont Library Board. She also chaired the Tri-Towns Homefest and Christmas parade for many years.
Many feared that Marg’s death would mark the end of the Herald legacy, but Bill continued to operate the Herald until he was forced to retire due to health issues in 2006.
About WVPA Hall of Fame nominations:
The requirements for nomination are as follows: In order to be nominated and elected to the West Virginia Press Association Hall of Fame, a person had to have an “outstanding” career with a West Virginia newspaper, weekly or daily, or can be a native West Virginian who had an outstanding journalism or industry related career outside West Virginia. A candidate can be considered for nomination five years after their death.
The Hall of Fame Committee maintains a list of nominees. Candidates for consideration, along with biographies, can be submitted to Don Smith, executive director of the West Virginia Press Association, at [email protected] or WVPA, 3422 Pennsylvania Avenue, Charleston, WV 25302.