Dr. Emory Kemp Lifetime Achievement Award, 2015 Historic Preservation Awards

By Sandra Scaffidi, PAWV Board President

This next award recipient is a legend in Marion County.

Joann Lough accepting her award from Dr. Emory Kemp and Logan Smith.

Joann Lough accepting her award from Dr. Emory Kemp and Logan Smith.

Born and raised in the area, Joann Lough was a natural storyteller.  I’d wager that she gained her love of history from her father, Glenn Lough, author of Marion County’s premier history book, Now and Long Ago.  She attended Fairmont State College where she majored in English, however, her love was to be found in the dramatics.  I think she was a part of every play, musical or drama presented at Fairmont State during her tenure as a student and continued on as a Speech and Communications professor at FSU for 55 years.  She taught thousands of students how to perform in front of a live audience, to express emotion with a subtle glance and to convey the story without breaking character.  It was through her love of theatre that Joann became a preservationist of the Masquers, Fairmont State’s Dramatic Honor Society which was established at Fairmont State Normal School in 1925.  JoAnn brought attention to the distinction and ensured that the documents were properly archived.

Marion County Jail

Marion County Jail

After her retirement from FSU in 1997, Joann became a dedicated preservationist of Marion County.  One of her first forays into historic preservation was the establishment of the Fairmont Historic Landmarks Commission.  From there, she led the charge to nominate Fairmont’s Woodlawn Cemetery to the National Register of Historic Places.  Perhaps her greatest achievement was saving the Marion County Jail from demolition.  With nothing more than grit, determination, and hard work, she fought tirelessly to protect this building which is now curated as a part of the Marion County Museum and Historical Society.

Joann continues to impress Marion County residents with her dramatic portrayals of Aunt Sukey, also known as the witch of Rivesville.  She also brought Fairmont founder Boaz Fleming and the first governor of the restored state of Virginia, Francis Pierpont to the forefront of Marion County’s consciousness.  She is a tireless researcher and writer who continuously contributes articles and opinion pieces to our local newspapers. She continues to educate West Virginians daily and brings a dose of wisdom and a ready smile wherever she goes.


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