Ron Mifflin

Ron Mifflin relaxes in his well-decorated home in the town in which he loves to live. He’s been a Fairmonter for 17 years now.

Ron Mifflin says he should be working for the Marion County Chamber of Commerce.

A man with the means to live anywhere in the United States ... and many foreign countries as well ... he chose Fairmont. And he has no regrets.

The retired gentleman, who now has been here for 17 years, says that during that time he’s had “more than 300 people visit me here and about six who actually moved here. I feel I should be working for the Chamber of Commerce. I like West Virginia. I like Fairmont. My friends get to see a part of the country and culture when they visit me that they would never have been exposed to.”

Mifflin, 75, says he has many friends in the movie business out in California. He has friends in politics. “But I’m very comfortable here. I can live anywhere in the world I want, but I like Fairmont.”

How did Ron Mifflin first get to Fairmont?

“I had just flown back from Portugal with a friend and we landed in New York. He had planned on retiring in Italy or Portugal but didn’t find anything over there that caught his eye.

“So instead of flying back to southern California where I had lived much of my life, we decided to drive. We always wanted to see Appalachia.

“So we stayed off the interstates. We wanted to see local things. ... We drove down Route 19 onto Pennsylvania Avenue in Fairmont and saw the old Clayton estate built in 1842 and (was now) in pretty bad condition.”

He said he learned it had been in the late Judge J. Harper Meredith’s family until the Claytons purchased it ... Mae Clayton and Florence Clayton Stalder.

“I saw a ‘For Sale’ sign up. The weeds were up high in the front yard. I was kind of impressed with this old house. I had been in the real estate business previously out in California and knew something about property. So I bought it that weekend. This was in August.

“In November, I hired people to restore it from the ground up. Everything. Then I lived there for seven or eight years and then sold it.

“I then lived on a 118-acre farm in Preston County. And I bought some old property and refurbished it.”

He said he ended up owning numerous rental properties and moved back here. He lives on Diana Drive.

“I’ve been having friends and relatives visit from all over world. I have a very big circle of friends and acquaintances throughout the U.S. and the world. About six friends have actually moved here.”

Mifflin said he originally thought people might be “put out by me. But I’ve never encountered such friendly, courteous, generous-of-spirit, delightful people, embracing of strangers in the most genuine way.”

“I thought people might treat me like I was from Mars but my neighbors have been marvelous, bringing me cakes, pies, all kinds of foods. ... I was just overwhelmed.”

He recalls one instance when he lived in Preston County and accidentally drove off the road and couldn’t remove his car from the ditch in which it wound up.

“A man came out of his shack to dig me out and wouldn’t take a cent for all his work. I’ve had several experiences like that.”

Mifflin was born in Buffalo. His father was a graduate of Cornell University in engineering — a jet propulsion engineer.

“We moved around a lot,” he says. “We finally settled in California. I’ve spent most of my life in Southern California because I rented to show business people. I met a lot of celebrities.

“Jack Klugman is a personal friend. Kay Callan, president of screen actors guild, is also. And Rue McClanahan from ‘The Golden Girls.’”

He said that his rental property has always been “just a sideline.”

“I worked for a large corporation. I was chief financial officer,” he says. “I retired from there in 1978. I had a lot of upscale rental property.

“I owed a nightclub for about eight years in Mammoth Lakes, Calif., in the High Sierras, a rather famous ski resort.

“My parents had lived in San Bernadino. My dad had died, but I bought a home in San Bernadino and worked for Nancy Reagan in her ‘Just Say No’ program. We founded a chain of homes for the mentally ill and a nonprofit homeless shelter. Our system that we set up became a prototype for the California State Care Home System.”

He said President Reagan, as governor, “had closed up all the mental institutions, but not every family was equipped to deal with some of these problems.”

“We bought a single care home and brought a business approach to a business that didn’t really exist. All these people, mostly adults, were living with elderly parents.

“We were encouraged to open another home. And then another. The next thing we knew we had 10 care homes — group homes — for the mentally ill. We also had a contract with the California Department of Corrections for parolees, kind of like a half-way house.”

Before Bruce McDaniel became city manager, Rick MacAfee was president of the local code enforcement. Mifflin said that MacAfee once told him that “if everyone maintained their property like you do, I wouldn’t have a job.”

Mifflin said he set up a small construction company and had 13 full-time employees for 14 years. “We made a nice impression and we contributed to the community and we had a number of people on the payroll.

“I did own the mobile home parks as well as the coin laundry in Barrackville. I built them but sold them all and retired again. This was the fourth time I had retired.”

Mifflin said he also owned 40-something acres in Monumental bu subdivided that property and sold off that land. There are six or eight homes there now.

He said he became involved in real estate when he was in his 30s.

“I bought properties with my income tax refunds. Things I bought for $27,000, $30,000, and $40,000 I kept for 10 years and sold for $250,000 ... $275,000.

Mifflin says he has now sold everything.

“I’m almost fully retired and spend most of my time traveling and entertaining. And I’ve been blessed with a pretty marvelous, adventurous life,” he said.

“I’ve been in 30 countries in the last five years. I lived in a monastery for two weeks in East Germany, and I was in Bogata, Columbia with a priest friend.”

His travels, and visits, have been extensive.

“Last November I was visiting an artist friend in Paris during the times of the fires and the riots. I’ve had an audience with the pope and been to Rome 18 times, Paris 14 times and London eight or 10 times. And I’m as comfortable in most major cities as I am here at home because I know my way around.”

He’s been blessed with good health.

“My grandmother was too,” he said. “At 99 my grandmother was writing letters and making new friends.”

He reiterated his love for Fairmont.

“Fairmont looked so green after living in California for 35 years,” he says.

E-mail John Veasey at

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