Times West Virginian
Ned Franklin Poe, 74, of Say Hay Farm, Monumental, a farmer and lover of the land and all its inhabitants, went to mow the Lord’s fields Wednesday (Nov. 28, 2012), cutting short a life that was a shining example of how much influence one good man can have in the world.
The middle son of the late Howard W. and Jeannette Clayton Poe, his “official” birthday was Nov. 16, 1938, and he was born at home on the family farm in Meadowdale, Marion County. The house stood on the exact spot of the current Pricketts Fort interchange on I-79; the Poe family farm relocated to Gilboa Road, Monumental, after interstate construction began in the 1960s. All three Poe brothers eventually made homes on that farm, and Ned continued to put up hay and work the land. He was never happier than when riding his tractor.
He attended Meadowdale School and was a 1957 graduate of East Fairmont High School, where he lettered in football, basketball and track; he was the first EFHS freshman to earn a varsity letter by qualifying for the 1954 state track meet. Upon graduation from East Fairmont, he attended Fairmont State and later West Virginia University, where he was a proud graduate of the College of Agriculture in 1961. But his greatest achievement of 1961 (or any year) was marrying Judy Gross, his high school sweetheart and wife of 51 years.
A tireless believer in America and the American dream, he served his country in the U.S. Army. He received the class commendation in basic training at Fort Knox, Ky., and was awarded a special commendation for uncovering corruption in dairy operations servicing Fort Richardson, Alaska, where he and Judy were stationed for three years. While in Alaska, he competed as a sled dog racer, and was on duty during the Cuban Missile Crisis and also during the most powerful earthquake ever recorded in North America, the Good Friday Alaskan earthquake of 1964.
After leaving active duty, he worked for the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Farmers Home Administration, serving as county supervisor in Monroe and later Wetzel/Tyler counties, before serving as administrative officer in the FHA state office in Morgantown. He was extremely proud of helping provide farm families with loans and assisting rural communities in obtaining water lines, treatment systems and public swimming pools.
He retired in 1994, but continued to work as a public servant as a board member of the Monumental Public Service District; he felt the many hours he spent tracking lines, fixing breaks, tracing accounts and assisting customers were worth it to bring quality, readily available water to his neighbors and friends. He took great pride in the Monumental PSD’s efforts in joining with other water boards to build a cooperative alliance that has been copied throughout West Virginia and beyond, and he made many friends through that work. He exercised his right to vote in every election up until his death, and he served as a poll worker on numerous occasions. He flew the American flag every day.
A tremendous sports fan, he attended many notable sporting events across the country while generously supporting his daughters Shelly (an assistant athletic director at Auburn University who was formerly sports information director at WVU) and Jill (an assistant basketball coach at East Carolina University) in their pursuits and adventures. He counted many of West Virginia University’s past coaches as his friends.
He believed being a “good neighbor” was a high calling, and he appreciated the assistance of friends and neighbors through troubling times. Two expressions were his favorites and he lived them: “The world doesn’t owe you a living” and “Farmers feed you three times a day.” He did not meet a stranger and enjoyed getting to know people from all parts of the world, all ages and all walks of life; they in turn treasured his friendship, advice and example.
The bedrock of a close-knit family that traces its roots back to the first English settlers in West Virginia and Revolutionary War soldiers who were deeded land in Baxter for their service, he is survived by his wife, Judy; daughters, Shelly of Auburn, Ala., and Jill of Greenville, N.C.; his favorite mother-in-law, Pauline Rosenmerkel of Fairmont; brother, Daniel and Elizabeth Poe of Fairmont; brother, Steven and Susannah Poe of Fairmont; sister-in-law, Linda Hays of Tucson, Ariz.; brother-in-law, Richard and Kathy Gross of Middleburg, Fla.; sister-in-law, Bev and Gary Laing of Wyoming, Del.; beloved Clayton cousins, Margaret and Jim Wilkes of Wooster, Ohio, Scott and Carol Bosley of Kalamazoo, Mich., Clay Bosley of Hagerstown, Md., and Sandra and Gene Rhodes of Sebring, Fla.; and close Shafer cousin, Annette Talley of Fairmont.
“Uncle Ned” took special interest in his nieces and nephews and their children: Jan, Tammy, Janalee, Joyanna and Joshua Poe of Fairmont; Brenda Hays of Tucson, Ariz.; Jessica Hays of Newark, Del.; Allen and Rocio Poe of Morgantown; Chris Poe of Park City, Utah; Sandie, Ron, Tye, Ryan and Melissa Holmes of Kenai, Alaska; Mike Hays of Finland; Shawn and Zoe Gross of Atlanta, Ga.; Teresa Gross and Laura Christie of Gainesville, Fla.; Matthew Poe of Hollywood, Calif.; Craig, AnneMarie, Aidan and Collin Laing of Newark, Del.; Kelly, Dan, Kacey, Will and Anderson Young of Middletown, Del.; and Ken, Katie, Alexander Ned and Russell Laing of Centreville, Md.
He also had great pride in the numerous young men and women who worked with him in the hayfields each summer, and followed them with enthusiasm as they went on to college and the military and built families and careers. He and Judy were so thankful for the willingness of a younger generation to learn attention to detail, the value of hard work and the satisfaction of a job well done.
A Christian in belief and deed, Mr. Poe was a member of Spruce Street United Methodist Church, Morgantown, where he served on many boards and committees. He was a supporter and member of many community organizations, including 4-H, scouts, FFA, Ruritan and Lions, and was a member for many years of the Western Stars square dance club.
Visitation will be from 5:30-8:30 p.m. today and from 2-8 p.m. Saturday at Ford Funeral Home, Columbia St., Fairmont. Funeral services will be at 1 p.m. Sunday at Ford Funeral Home; interment will be in the Poe family plot at Mount Zion Cemetery. Military rites will be held graveside by the Marion County Veterans Council.
In lieu of flowers, the family asks for donations to the Centreville United Methodist Church Youth Ministries (Ned Poe memorial), 608 Church Hill Road, Centreville, MD 21617, where his nephew and wife serve as youth directors.
Online condolences may be made at www.fordfuneralhomes.com.