Walter Blaine Swentzel was a tall, lanky man; not a big man by today's standards, but one who always made an impression when he walked into a room. He was a teacher by profession, and after a long career in the classroom, retired as the last Doddridge County, West Virginia Superintendent of Schools to be elected by the voters of the county.
Even more so than an educator, Swentzel was a God fearing, strong-willed philosophical man, an avid reader, a hard-working farmer, a lover of country and nature to the extent that he often wrote about such things, and all the while, totally devoted to his wife, children, and grandchildren. His love of classic literature and poetry was often bestowed on the grandchildren, (albeit not always received with the same gusto as it was given) who, during their numerous visits to the farm, were often required to sit and listen quietly as he read aloud a tale by William Shakespeare or Mark Twain, or perhaps a favorite poem by the likes of Keats, Robert Frost, or one by his own hand. "Not much fun then, but certainly appreciated now," noted Walter Swentzel Stout, grandson of Walter Swentzel.
In 1983, two of Swentzel's children, June Swentzel Stout and Kipling Clark Swentzel, met with representatives of two banks in West Union, Cornerstone Bank (formerly First National Bank of West Union) and West Union Bank, and the administration of the Doddridge County High School with the goal of honoring their father's memory by creating a scholarship in his name to support students excelling academically who wished to pursue post-secondary education. Their initial contributions to establish the scholarship were met with community support and the first Walter B. Swentzel Scholarship award was made in 1984.
Between 1984 and 2018, the Swentzel Scholarship produced nearly $190,000 in awards. In the summer of 2018, to ensure the perpetual existence of the scholarship and to provide support for its selection process, the Walter B. Swentzel Scholarship, Inc.'s Board of Directors partnered with the Doddridge County Community Foundation (DCCF), a regional affiliate of the Parkersburg Area Community Foundation (PACF).
"Education is the art, that takes as its raw material youthful lives - more plastic than clay, more responsive than the strings of a harp, and more enduring than marble - and by means of influence, scientific, aesthetic, moral, and religious, molds them into the most majestic of masterpieces - men and women at their best."
-Walter B. Swentzel
Picture Caption: Walter Swentzel and his wife, Lovie, during their 50th wedding anniversary in 1959.