Harry E. Moats was born in Harrisville, WV on March 16, 1913. He was the son of the late Carlie S. and Viola McDougal Moats. Mr. Moats attended public schools in Ritchie County and then remained in the Mountain State for his undergraduate and graduate education, attending West Virginia University. In 1936, he received an A.B. Degree from WVU and a Doctor of Jurisprudence in 1938. He was assisted in his undergraduate studies through a four-year scholarship, as the result of winning the West Virginia Inter-Scholastic Debate Contest.
Realizing the benefits of hard work, Harry Moats paid for most of his schooling. He worked various jobs to support himself, from firing a furnace, to performing janitorial work in the old field house and Mountaineer Stadium, to working numerous sales positions.
At WVU, Mr. Moats was an active member of the University Freshman and Varsity Debate Teams and an organizer and one of the first presidents of the Student Christian Union, composed of university students of all denominations. He was also elected President of the Junior Class and was one of the original organizers of the non-fraternity Student Union Party.
Mr. Moats was a Ritchie County prosecutor from 1940 to 1948, a member of the West Virginia Senate from 1948 to 1960, and a member of the House of Delegates from 1970 to 1976. He is still recognized as a role model for lawyers in the area.
Mr. Moats may be best remembered for his perfected art of eloquent oration. Oce Smith, former West Virginia House of Delegates doorkeeper, described Harry Moats with great reverence, and proclaimed Mr. Moats to be, " . . . that august body's greatest and most spell binding speaker and orator." Many years ago, various metropolitan newspapers and publications from the Atlantic Coast to the Pacific quoted Mr. Moats when he arose in the House Chamber to give the day's opening prayer. Standing at the lectern, he prayed, "Dear Lord, please see to it that all our words of today be pleasant and easy to digest, for tomorrow we may have to eat them. Amen!"
Harry Moats was awarded the Order of Vandalia from West Virginia University for distinguished service in 1985, and in 1988, he received the Justita Officium Award from the College of Law at West Virginia University.
Thanks to the generosity of Irene Moats Conaway, Harry Moat's legacy lives on, and many children have been blessed with educational opportunities.