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PASSINGS : Cecil Underwood

Cecil Underwood, 86, a one-time high school teacher...

November 25, 2008|Times Wire Reports

Cecil Underwood, 86, a one-time high school teacher who went on to hold the distinction of being West Virginia's youngest and oldest governor, died Monday at Charleston Area Medical Center, hospital spokesman Dale Witte said. The cause of death was not announced.

Underwood became West Virginia's youngest governor when he won his first term in 1956 at the age of 34. He won his second term 40 years later on his 74th birthday.

Underwood entered politics at 22, successfully running as a Republican for the state House of Delegates representing Tyler County. After serving six terms in the House, he won his first four-year term as the state's chief executive.

He fought the Democratic-controlled Legislature for four years, but was unable to run for reelection because West Virginia's Constitution then limited a governor to one four-year term.

Underwood was drafted to run for governor in 1996 and defeated Democrat Charlotte Pritt, carrying 38 of the state's 55 counties. He lost his reelection bid in 2000.

Born in 1922 in Josephs Mills, W.V., Underwood spent his early years in Tyler County, graduating from Tyler County High School in 1939 and Salem College in 1943. He earned a master's degree from West Virginia University in 1952.

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