James Everett Leggett and Hattie Leggett were children of the Great Depression. They were born to parents who valued literacy and education as the means to prosper.
Hattie was born on October 14 in 1928 to Orville Brannon and Lola Sparks Brannon. Her father was the President of the Gilmer County Board of Education during the Great Depression. Hattie excelled scholastically and was awarded the WV Golden Horseshoe Award. She continued her education at Glenville State College - where she met Everett - and graduated in 1948 with a double education major of Chemistry and English. She was also a visiting graduate student at Latrobe University in Melbourne, Australia, and attended Italian classes with immigrant children.
After graduation, Hattie became a reading, English, and science teacher in Maryland. From 1965-1985, she was a counselor in Montgomery County, Maryland and then in Lexington, Kentucky. Hattie also served as a college recruiter for Berea University, Berea, Kentucky from approximately 1988 to 1997. Hattie then moved back to the region where she served on the Advisory Board of Read Aloud WV and coordinated the Read Aloud program in Doddridge County. She read each week to Head Start and the first, second and third grades at West Union Grade School.
Everett was born on October 20, 1926, the son of the late Okey and Chloia Riddle Leggett of West Union. His father taught at the local one room school house (grades 1 – 8) before obtaining a rural mail route that he delivered for more than 40 years. Everett grew up in Doddridge County, volunteered for the Navy in 1944 and served in the South Pacific. He graduated from Glenville State College in 1949 with majors in biology and general sciences and was employed as a science teacher in St. Mary’s County, Maryland, for two years prior to his entry into graduate school at the University of Maryland. There, he completed his master’s degree in soils and a Ph.D. in plant physiology.
Everett worked for 17 years at the USDA Plant Industry Station in Beltsville, Maryland, conducting research on plant nutrition before joining the staff at the University (U.K.), in 1970. At U.K., Everett served as a professor and director of graduate studies in plant physiology and was the research location leader in the USDA Agriculture Research Service. During his tenure there, he was elected to be a Fellow in the American Association for the Advancement of Science. During the 1976-1977 academic years, he was a visiting professor in the School of Agriculture at La Trobe University in Melbourne, Australia. He also lectured at the Universities of Oxford and Leeds in England.
Everett and Hattie returned to the family farm in Oxford, WV in 1986 where they raised Angus cattle. They remained very active in literacy and post-secondary education opportunities for area youth and their focus was to expand the educational opportunities for underprivileged students. In 2007, Everett received national recognition as a “Daily Point of Light” for his work as a founding member of the Doddridge County Community Foundation.
Hattie passed away January 19, 1999, and her beloved husband, Everett, passed away October 31, 2017. Everett and Hattie were the first generation in their families to graduate high school, and later college. To forever honor and recognize their commitment to area youth, two scholarship funds were created in their honor, the Doddridge County High School Promise Scholarship (est. 2000 by family friends, Perry and Janet Ferguson and Everett Leggett) and the J. Everett and Hattie Leggett Memorial Scholarship (est. 2008 by their son, Patrick A. Leggett).