2000 Laureates

Woodrow W. McGlothlin

"I have seen some amazing changes during the course of my life. We have gone from traveling on horses and mules along unpaved roads without bridges to traveling in airplanes and space shuttles. Radio and television have been invented and we have advanced from manual typewriters to the age of computers."

The thirteenth of fourteen children, Woodrow was born in May 1914 to Benjamin F. and Annie L. McGlothlin. His father was a farmer, the operator of a small country store and a mill. He also served as postmaster of Skeggs, Virginia in Buchanan County.

"Both my parents were hard workers and taught their children the value and satisfaction that could be obtained from hard work. More importantly, they taught us how to respect God and one another. They were both strong believers in God, the importance of a family and a good education."

Buchanan County had no public high schools and Woodrow attended Triangular Mountain Institute, a boarding school operated by the Methodist Church. As a day student the cost was $2.50 a month and was paid with vegetables and produce from the family farm. Determined to go to work following high school graduation, Woodrow overheard his parents discussing the possible mortgage of the family house and farm in order to send him to college. Instead of going to work, Woodrow enrolled at Emory and Henry College in 1933 and received his BA Degree in 1937.

McGlothlin returned to Buchanan County and taught school for a year before joining the Buchanan County Welfare Board as a social worker. Four years later Woodrow was hired as a bookkeeper and later became office manager at Page Pocahontas Coal Corporation. The company had a store and small post office and Woodrow also served as the postmaster. He was to serve the town of Page, Virginia as its postmaster for sixteen years.

Several years after joining Page Pocahontas, Woodrow and a group of employees bought the company and renamed it Garden Smokeless Coal Corporation. This proved to be a very profitable business venture. Later, he co-founded and served as secretary & treasurer of Diamond Smokeless Coal Corporation. After a few years, he became the sole owner and operated this business until 1967. He then sold it and decided to retire.

Woodrow had proven his entrepreneurial abilities but the best was yet to come. In 1970, his son, Jim, walked across to the courthouse and met a friend who offered to sell him his West Virginia coal property. This was the basis for the formation of what eventually became known as The United Company. United Coal went on to purchase many other companies such as Wellmore, Dal-Tex, Leetown, Riverside, etc., and finally became the largest privately owned coal company in the eastern United States. During this time, United also purchased and owned Birmingham Steel Corporation in Birmingham, Alabama; United Supply Company with stores in the eastern United States; United Oil & Minerals in Austin, Texas; Star Oil & Gas in Calgary, Canada; Scratch Golf located in Hilton Head, South Carolina; United Investment Corporation headquartered in Bristol, Virginia; Las Vegas Cogen in Las Vegas, Nevada; and numerous other companies which were purchased and sold during the last 30 years. In 1998, Woodrow decided to sell his interest in United back to the company in order to allow him to form the McGlothlin Foundation and to give generously of the fruits of his success to others, with particular emphasis on education, where Mr. McGlothlin and the Foundation have been so successful.

Woodrow's activity in the community and region continue to be significant. He is a past president of the Buchanan County Chamber of Commerce, the former chairman of the Buchanan County School Board, and has chaired the Emory & Henry Board of Visitors. His great commitment to education has been a priority in his support of Emory & Henry College and the scholarship program he endowed. The college has honored Woodrow as Alumnus of the Year and conferred on him the honorary degree, Doctor of Humane Letters.

He serves as Treasurer of the Appalachian School of Law and a member of their Board of Trustees and was a member of the Advisory Board of the University of Virginia's College at Wise. Woodrow is a 32nd Degree Mason, a Shriner and a member of The Kazim Temple of Roanoke, VA. He is also a Kentucky Colonel, and has received the Silver Beaver and Eagle awards from the Boy Scouts of America. He attends Garden United Methodist Church in Oakwood, VA.

Woodrow says, "I have learned that a good, loving wife and family are the greatest assets that a man can have in this life. I have been blessed with a lovely wife, Sally Ann who is also a strong believer in God and the benefit of a good education and hard work. She worked hard to instill these values in our three sons, James, Thomas, and Michael all of whom have been successful in their professional careers, their businesses, and in the communities in which they live. Also, our wonderful grandchildren continue to bless us."

Woodrow McGlothlin has contributed greatly to Buchanan County, Southwest Virginia and the Tri-Cities. He prefers to quietly give back and in 1998 founded the McGlothlin Foundation. "I wanted to have an organized structure to make charitable gifts. The foundation helps me promote the causes that I am most interested in; higher education, health care and the arts. Also, the foundation will be there promoting these causes for generations to come."