Longtime Republican activist Robert Gould died unexpectedly of cancer this morning. He was 48.
Friends say Gould had just been named chairman of Republican presidential candidate Rudy Giuliani's West Virginia campaign last week.
Pleasants County state Senator Donna Boley worked closely with Gould beginning in 1991 and describes him as one of the most intelligent men she's ever met.
Before moving to West Virginia in the early 1990s, friends say Gould worked as a staffer for President Ronald Reagan. Boley says he later moved to West Virginia and raised buffalo before running an unsuccessful campaign for state attorney general.
Gould later served as general chairman of the West Virginia Republican Legislative Committee from 1993 to 2001.
Gould managed the unsuccessful gubernatorial bid of Colorado Republican Marc Holtzman last year and was involved with the group Republicans for Manchin in 2004.
Spokeswoman Lara Ramsburg says Governor Manchin, a Democrat, was shocked and saddened by the death of a man he called a strong supporter.
Gould is survived by his wife, Denise, and three children. Funeral services are scheduled for Thursday.