A successful businessman and philanthropist, an athletics hall of fame alumnus, a campus provost for one of the University’s divisions, and a veteran University communications professional are being honored as “Most Loyals” during the 64th annual Mountaineer Week, a celebration of Appalachian Heritage, Oct. 28 – Nov. 5, on West Virginia University’s campus.
The 2011 honorees are Jim Justice, Most Loyal West Virginian; John Mallory, Most Loyal Alumni Mountaineer; Kerry Odell, Most Loyal Faculty Mountaineer; and Becky Lofstead, Most Loyal Staff Mountaineer. The group will be honored during halftime ceremonies of Saturday’s (Nov. 5) WVU-Louisville football game.
The Most Loyal West Virginian and Alumni Mountaineer awards have been presented since 1974, while the Most Loyal Faculty and Staff Mountaineer award was created in 1994 and split into two separate awards in 2001. The award recipients are selected by a joint committee representing the WVU Foundation, WVU Alumni Association and the Mountaineer Week organizing committee.
Most Loyal West Virginian
Jim Justice is the chairman and CEO of the recently acquired Greenbrier, the luxury resort, casino and golf club located in White Sulphur Springs. Under Justice’s leadership, improvements to the resort have resulted in the creation of The Greenbrier Classic, an official PGA TOUR, FedExCup event.
While revamping a county’s major employer is a notable accomplishment, Justice’s impact is one that is felt throughout the entire state and beyond. He is deeply involved in his family’s business and as a result of his strong interest in agriculture, started Bluestone Farms (currently operating as Justice Family Farms, LLC) in 1977. The corn, wheat, and soybean operation grew to over 50,000 acres in four different states, and is now the largest grain producer on the east coast.
Southern Coal Corporation, the Justice's Kentucky, Tennessee, Virginia and West Virginia coal operations, will produce and ship over 7.5 million tons in 2011. These coal operations and the West Virginia, Virginia, North and South Carolina agricultural operations continue today under the parent James C. Justice Companies, Inc.
Justice has carried on his family’s tradition of being a major supporter of youth programs. Every Christmas, Jim dons his custom made Santa Claus suit as he goes to churches to greet many needy smiling faces. Since 1992, he has been president of Beckley Little League, helping to expand the program to over 1,000 kids playing on 80 teams. He has also coached basketball teams of all ages for the past 30 years, amassing a coaching record of 761 wins - 156 losses. He is currently the head boys’ and girls’ basketball coach at Greenbrier East High School in Lewisburg.
Most Loyal Alumni
John Mallory earned his bachelor’s degree in education from WVU.
As an undergraduate, he played for the WVU football team, leading the Mountaineers in punt returns from 1965-67 while excelling as a defensive back. He was a two-year All-Southern Conference pick and earned honorable mention All-America honors.
He went on to play in the NFL, being selected in the 10th round by the Philadelphia Eagles. He was traded the next year to Atlanta, where he became the Falcons all-time punt return leader. He was also a player-coach for the now-defunct World Football League franchise in Shreveport, La.
After his football career, Mallory spent 25 years at AT&T, where he held management positions in sales, marketing, product management, strategic planning, government affairs and human resources. His last assignment was general manager of an AT&T sales division. He now works as an independent consultant.
Currently, Mallory serves on the board of directors for the Neighborhood Health Center which provides health care services for the medically needy and indigent populations in certain New Jersey communities. He has served on the Greater Detroit Chamber of Commerce’s Business Education Training Alliance Board of Trustees and the AT&T Community Involvement Council.
Active at his alma mater, Mallory has served on the WVU College of Physical Activity and Sport Sciences Visiting Committee. He is a former member of the WVU Alumni Association Board of Directors and served as vice president during his term. He has been named to the WVU All-Time Team (1960-69) and WVU Athletic Hall of Fame.
John’s late wife Maribeth was also a WVU graduate. He has two children, Aimee and Scott, and two grandchildren. John currently lives in Summit, N.J.
Most Loyal Faculty and Staff Mountaineers
Dr. Kerry Odell served as interim president of Potomac State College of WVU from 2003-2005, and led the transition of the college to a fully integrated division of WVU. Following a national search, he was selected as the College’s first campus provost and began his service in that role in July 2005. He recently announced plans to step down from that post in June of next year.
During his tenure, Potomac State College’s enrollment grew from 1,330 to 1,836 students – a 38 percent increase. Private giving also increased with more than $3 million in new gifts being received by the WVU Foundation to benefit Potomac State. In addition, more than $25 million in capital improvements were made to the campus.
Prior to his role at Potomac State, Odell was an associate professor of agricultural and environmental education for 17 years on WVU’s main campus in Morgantown, and also served as associate dean (1994-2000) of what is now the Davis College of Agriculture, Natural Resources and Design.
Odell has a doctorate degree from Ohio State University, a master’s degree from Penn State, a bachelor’s degree from University of Georgia and an associate’s degree from State University of New York at Alfred.
Odell said his future plans remain open, but he is a tenured professor and may return to teaching.
Becky Lofstead is assistant vice president of university communications in the Office of University Relations at WVU. She is an award-winning communications and administrative professional with extensive experience in integrated marketing and communications, media relations, crisis communication, public and community affairs, marketing and branding, new media and project management.
She joined WVU in 1987 as assistant director of News and Information Services and, several years later, was named director.
Prior to joining WVU, Lofstead was lifestyles editor at The Dominion Post and also worked as the public relations director at Fairmont State University.
She is a 1976 WVU journalism graduate and 2006 graduate of Leadership West Virginia. She also serves as new member advisor to Chi Omega Sorority, and serves on many university-wide committees and task forces.
She is married to Dan Lofstead and the couple has two children, Chris and Macall, and two grandchildren.