(WSAZ Photo / John Green)
UPDATE 5/17/2011 @ 6:20 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The man who has led the state's agriculture office for nearly 50 years is retiring.
Gus Douglas started with the Department of Agriculture in 1957 and was first elected as commissioner in 1964.
After serving 11 terms, he's ready to hand over the reigns.
During the past five decades, he only took off for one term, while running for governor. After being defeated in the 1988 primary by Gaston Caperton, he says it was Caperton who asked him back.
“They convinced me to come back,” Douglass said. “I thought I’d lost my vision in '88 for agriculture.”
However, even in his retirement, that vision is still strong.
“There's always something to do on the farm,” his wife, Anna Lee, said.
They still live on the farm where Douglass grew up, and Anna Lee has quite a honey-do list prepared.
“He's always busy going some place or doing something, so my list is getting longer and longer,” she said.
Anna Lee and their children have been there from the very beginning, and say they'll continue to support all of his future projects.
“I may be writing a book,” Douglass said.
He's planning to write evaluations of all the governors he has worked with, but for now Douglass says there's still plenty of work to do before leaving office.
“I tell staff, don't think they're gonna let down. We're gonna continue to push,” Douglass said.
His term will officially end in January 2013. He said he wanted to go ahead and announce his retirement now, so potential candidates would have plenty of time to prepare for the next election.
Douglass made the announcement at a news conference, Tuesday afternoon.
Douglass will retire from public service in January 2013.
We have a crew at the news conference. Keep clicking WSAZ.com
Douglass has scheduled a news conference for Tuesday afternoon at his office at the state Capitol in Charleston.
The 84-year-old Democrat has been elected 11 times. He served six terms between 1964 and 1984 and won five more terms since 1992.
The Mason County native joined the Department of Agriculture as assistant commissioner in 1957.
The news conference is scheduled for 1:30 p.m.
WSAZ will have a crew at the news conference. Keep clicking on WSAZ.com for the very latest information.