About Governors Underwood and Smith

The Underwood-Smith Teaching Scholars Program is named in honor of West Virginia Governors Cecil H. Underwood and Hulett C. Smith, both of whom were strong advocates for West Virginia teachers and students. Although they were political opponents, Governors Underwood and Smith became friends and worked together to improve education for West Virginians. The photographs below were provided by the West Virginia Department of Arts, Culture and History.

Governor Cecil H. Underwood

Cecil Harland Underwood was born in Josephs Mills, Tyler County on November 5, 1922 and died in Charleston on November 24, 2008. At the age of 22, Underwood was elected to the first of six terms in the House of Delegates. While serving in the House, he worked as a high school biology teacher, then as a college counselor and faculty member at Marietta College, then as a senior administrator at Salem College, while also earning his master’s degree from West Virginia University.

In 1957, Underwood became West Virginia’s 25th Governor, and at 34 was the youngest person ever elected to the position. In 1996, on his 74th birthday, he was elected to a second term, this time as the oldest person ever elected to the position. As governor, Underwood advocated for improved infrastructure and understood the importance of access to technology and education.

November 5, 1922 - November 24, 2008 Elected governor in 1956 and 1996
Governor Cecil Underwood visiting Calhoun High School with former State Superintendent of Schools Dr. Henry “Hank” Marockie on August 25, 1998.

From the Governor Cecil H. Underwood Collection (Second Term), West Virginia State Archives.

Governor Cecil Underwood with students from Coalwood, WV during their visit to the West Virginia State Capitol on February 6, 1959.

From the Governor Cecil H. Underwood Collection, West Virginia State Archives.

Governor Hulett C. Smith

ulett Carlson Smith was born in Beckley on October 21, 1918 and died in Scottsdale, Arizona on January 15, 2012. Following graduation from the Wharton School of Finance and Administration of the University of Pennsylvania, he worked in insurance and was active in politics. He was elected governor in 1964 and shepherded the state through the turbulence of the late 1960s. Governor Smith is remembered for championing environmental initiatives and supporting education and the arts.

October 21, 1918 - January 15, 2012 Elected governor in 1964
Governor Hulett C. Smith visiting the Greenbrier Military Academy on January 18, 1966.

From the Governor Hulett C. Smith Collection, West Virginia State Archives.


From the Governor Hulett C. Smith Collection, West Virginia State Archives.