UPDATE: Former Congressman Ken Hechler remembered at ceremony

By  | 

UPDATE 12/19/16 @ 5:45 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- An iconic West Virginian will be laid to rest this week. Longtime politician and activist Ken Hechler's first memorial service was held Monday.

Hechler died at his home Dec. 10. He was 102 years old.

The Cultural Center at West Virginia's Capitol was open to the public for several hours Monday. Anyone who was interested could come inside to pay their respects.

Tony Murphy, a Logan County native who now lives in California, flew across the country to pay his respects.

"Politicians say that they are going to do something, but they don't walk the walk. As soon as they get elected they kind of forget about the people that got them into office. Ken Hechler, to me, was really a servant. He was a servant to the people of West Virginia, and he fought every second for his life," Murphy said.

When he was 17, Murphy was invited to Washington, D.C. for a trip at then Congressman Hechler's office. He then served as a page and has stayed closed with Hechler ever since.

"Through Washington, I saw him debating in Washington for West Virginians. I saw him do things when he was at home for West Virginians. So I hope people remember the fight, and he did the good fight."

Another public visitation will take place at Giffin Funeral Home and Crematory in Capon Bridge, West Virginia, from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21.

A final funeral service will commence at the Augusta Church of Christ in Augusta, West Virginia, at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 22.

Hechler's burial will follow at Branch Mountain United Methodist Cemetery in Three Churches, West Virginia.



UPDATE 12/15/16 @ 6:35 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Funeral services have been set for former West Virginia Congressman and Secretary of State Ken Hechler.

Hechler will lie-in-repose at the Cultural Center in Charleston from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Monday, Dec. 19. A funeral service will follow at 3 p.m.

Another public visitation will take place at Giffin Funeral Home and Crematory in Capon Bridge, West Virginia, from 4 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 21.

A final funeral service will commence at the Augusta Church of Christ in Augusta, West Virginia, at 11 a.m. Thursday, Dec. 22.

His burial will follow at Branch Mountain United Methodist Cemetery in Three Churches, West Virginia.

Hechler died at home Saturday at the age of 102.



ORIGINAL STORY 12/11/16 @ 10:15 a.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- (West Virginia Metro News/WSAZ) Former longtime West Virginia Congressman and Secretary of State Ken Hechler died at home Saturday at the age of 102, according to friends and various social media reports, according to our media partner Metro News.

Hechler, a native of New York, served nine terms in Congress from 1959 to 1977. The Democrat began his congressional career after teaching one semester at Marshall. He had grown fond of the Huntington campus while traveling with President Harry Truman. Hechler had served in several positions in the Truman administration.

Hechler was a veteran of World War II and served as a combat historian in the Army. He wrote several books including "The Bridge at Remagen." He had been an eyewitness to that battle in Germany.

Hechler, who marched with Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1965 at Selma, Alabama, decided not to file for reelection to Congress in 1976, but instead he sought the Democratic Party's nomination for governor. He was defeated by a fellow transplant from New York, Jay Rockefeller. He ran for Secretary of State in 1984 and held the position for four terms.

Hechler wasn't done in making his voice heard. He ran unsuccessfully for Congress a few times following his four-terms as Secretary of State and he was also an outspoken critic of mountaintop removal mining. He claimed he was kicked by a politician in Logan County during a march in the months before fellow Democrat Bob Wise was elected governor in 2000. Hechler showed up in the lower rotunda of the state Capitol at Wise's first news conference after the election. Wise had appointed the politician to a position in his administration. Hechler's protest sign read "Kick me and get a job with Bob Wise."

Several West Virginia leaders have commented on the news of Hechler's death.

"Ken Hechler was a statesman in the truest sense,"
West Virginia Governor, Earl Ray Tomblin said in a statement. "He dedicated his life to public service and to his fellow West Virginians. He loved our state and our people dearly. A true West Virginia treasure, Ken's legacy of service will live on for generations to come. Joanne and I join his many friends in sending our thoughts and prayers to his wife, Carol, and all who loved him."

"West Virginia has lost an elder statesman," House Speaker Tim Armstead, (R-Kanawha), says "As a World War II veteran, Congressman and Secretary of State, Ken Hechler led a distinguished life of service to our state and nation. I had the pleasure of working with then-Secretary of State Hechler during my time in Governor Underwood's administration. While we may have been on different ends of the political spectrum, Ken Hechler came to work each day with a passion and devotion to the state of West Virginia and its people that continues to set an example for all who serve. My thoughts and prayers go out to his wife Carol and their family and friends as we as a state honor Ken's legacy."

"West Virginia has lost an honorable and devoted public servant with the passing of our former Congressman and Secretary of State Ken Hechler," Senate President Bill Cole, (R-Mercer,) said. "His tireless service to the State of West Virginia and its people will forever be remembered. My thoughts and prayers are with his wife Carol and their family as they honor and celebrate Ken's life."

“When Ken Hechler chose to accept a teaching job at Marshall University, he set himself on a path to become one of our state’s longest-serving and most admired public servants," says U.S. Representative Evan Jenkins (R-W.Va.). "He inspired generation after generation of West Virginians to follow his example and put others above self. I will treasure the memories I have of him from my days in the Legislature and offer my sympathies to his wife, Carol, and his friends. It is truly a sad day in West Virginia, but we are better off because of the work and legacy of Ken Hechler.”

Hechler was known for his love for tennis and driving his little red Jeep, of which he had many, on the campaign trail. He married Carol Kitzmiller in 2013. She made several appearances on MetroNews "Talkline" the last few years reporting on Hechler's health and activities. The couple lived in Slanesville in the Eastern Panhandle.

Funeral arrangements are pending.



 
Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station. powered by Disqus