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Four new members selected for Greater Huntington Wall of Fame

Aug. 17, 2014 @ 12:00 AM

HUNTINGTON -- The City of Huntington Foundation has selected four new inductees for the Greater Huntington Wall of Fame for 2014.

This year's inductees are David Cohen, Slyvia C. Ridgeway, the late James "Jimmie" Ritter and Charles E. "Chuck" Romine.

The induction ceremony will take place Thursday, Oct. 9 at the Big Sandy Superstore Arena. The reception will begin at 6 p.m., dinner at 7 p.m. and the ceremony at 8 p.m. Reservations are required.

Individual tickets are $75. Corporate tables (8 seats) are $1,200 while half corporate table (4 seats) is $600.

For more information or to purchase tickets and make reservations, contact Maxine Loudermilk at 304-696-5522 or email loudermilkm@cityofhuntington.com. You can also visit the website at www.cityofhuntingtonfoundation.com/.

Here's a look at this year's inductees, as provided by the City of Huntington Foundation.

David Cohen

David Cohen was born Aug. 30, 1924 during the Great Depression. Though born in Cincinnati, Ohio, he became a resident of Huntington one week later.

He graduated from Huntington High School in 1942, and as with most families, had to work to support his family. Although he didn't get to make many friends, he was more fortunate than many to graduate. He passed newspapers after class and then worked a second job at B&B Loans. His dreams of college were dashed due to economics of his family and the costs of a college education. It did not, however, prevent him from becoming a successful and well known businessman in Huntington. He always spoke of his profound love of his hometown.

Established in 1949, Davey along with his friend and business partner purchased B&B Loans. Today Mack and Dave's has 25 employees and is one of the longest operating shops in downtown Huntington. At 90 years old, Cohen has a dogged determination to keep the store alive and his employees in work. Some of his employees have 40 years of service and are somewhat aged to have to acquire other jobs. Cohen feels that responsibility and it weighs heavily on him.

Mack and Dave's was a Huntington Department long before others came along, both locally and nationally.

Cohen's wife Marilyn Cohen works along side him in the operations of the business. Multiple generations of Huntingtonians have shopped and established credit through the store. Cohen would always help people with credit when others would not.

A member of the Huntington Downtown Lions Club for more than 50 years, Cohen gives both of his time and finances for support. He is an avid supporter of local organizations too numerous to mention and on a regular basis, gives gift certificates and merchandise to local non profits for fundraising.

"He doesn't want, or care if anyone knows what he does. He just does it," says Marilyn Cohen. "Most of the time, I don't even know what he has contributed.

"His greatest asset is a great heart," she added. "He has a heart big enough to care for his wife, his family, his employees and his community."

There are no plaques and newspaper articles lining the walls of Mack and Dave's.

There is no long list of buildings and roads bearing his name.

Slyvia Ridgeway

Sylvia Ridgeway committed her life to inspiring others.

She lives in Huntington, and is the widow of Ray Ridgeway who shared her passion of "giving back." They were married 50 years and are the parents of Keith, Troy, Bryan and Shelly Ridgeway. Proudly, her grandchildren include Branden, Clarke, Carsyn and Tory.

Ridgeway is a 1957 graduate of Douglass High School and Marshall University with a bachelors degree in English/language arts and a masters degree in secondary education. She taught English for 24 years in the Cabell County School System and continues to teach as a substitute in several middle schools in Cabell County.

Her community service spans 57 years of direct and indirect involvement. Her constant focus is to "teach others." Whether she is participating in the Huntington Club of Black Professional and Business Women, the Huntington Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc., or projects for churches that aid and inform individuals in the Huntington community concerning health issues, she continually strives to inspire others with her unique gift of reaching out to teach.

Other involvements of pride and accomplishments:

Missionary to Zimbabwe

Missionary to Mexico

Missionary to Russia

Civil Rights advocate and leader

Speaking to Congress, May 2013, relative to 50 States United for Healthy Air

Testimony before the Environmental Protection Agency Hearings in 2012

Her Community service includes:

Current president of the Huntington Cabell branch of the NAACP

Current member, WV, Martin L. King, Jr. State Holiday Commission - Appointed by Governor Early Ray Tomblin

Member of the Huntington Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority

Former member of the evaluation team, City of Huntington "Children in the Arts" program at A.D. Lewis Community Center

Local Board member WV Health, Science, Technology Academy to aid students who are underprivileged or underserved

Sylvia has attained the following special honors

Named Citizen of the Year for 2012 by The Herald-Dispatch

Named Cabell County Secondary Language Arts "Teacher of the Year"

Listed in WHO'S WHO AMONG COLLEGE WOMEN (from MU)

Inducted into Alpha Delta Kappa Honorary Fraternity for Education

Received the Community Service Award (2005) from MU Alumni

Association Award from Women of Full Gospel Assembly for Lifetime Achievement in Community Service

Invited to the Congressional Club Luncheon to honor First Lady Obama 2014

Sylvia Ridgeway lives her life as her testimony. To quote George Elliot, "What do we live for, if it is not to make life less difficult for each other."

James "Jim" Ritter

James Ritter was born in Huntington on Feb. 13, 1945, a son of the late Eugene and Velma LaFon Damron. Even though his father was not his birth father, he was a father in every sense of the word. He taught Jim and his siblings to respect people, to be honest, and to love God and their country.

He had one sister Rebecca Collins and one brother Steven Damron, both of Huntington.

He grew up in the Westmoreland area and graduated from Vinson High School. After graduation, he joined the Navy where he saw action during the Dominican Republic Crisis. After receiving an honorable discharge, Ritter attended Cuyahoga Community College in Ohio. He returned to Huntington where he became employed as an elevator mechanic. He married Norma Jean (Nicely) Ritter. They had two sons, Todd Ritter of Huntington and Chad Ritter of Louisville, Kentucky.

His first love of community service came when his two sons began to play sports. He coached youth basketball and football. He went on to coach Babe Ruth baseball and high school soccer. Though his sons graduated and went away to college, Ritter did not stop mentoring and coaching other athletes. He coached the boys' soccer team at Cabell Midland. He also coached girls' soccer at Spring Valley High School. He was often known to take his teams to other parts of the state to introduce them to hiking, exploring and white water rafting. He was loved by so many because he loved them. The Tri-State Magazine wrote, "Jim Ritter gets involved and makes a difference."

Ritter was an avid Marshall University fan and supporter. He had season tickets for both football and basketball.

On June 23, 1989 he was sworn in as Councilman for District 1, Westmoreland. He would continue this service for 22 years. While in office, Councilman Ritter was appointed by Mayor Wolfe to the Tri-State Airport Authority. He fought many battles for the people he represented and who needed help. He didn't always win. However, he gave it his all.

Ritter worked diligently with the Westmoreland Neighborhood Association to help in fixing their flooding problems in Westmoreland. Also, he went to the Spring Valley Neighborhood Association to help and give his support in fixing their flooding problems.

No matter where in the community he was needed, he was there and was prepared to get the job done.

On April, 2000 and December 2006 Jim was recognized by the Neighborhood Institute of Huntington for making a positive impact on the community. Also, on May 24, 2012, the Huntington Police Department awarded him the Distinguished Service Award for three decades of service to the citizens of Huntington and extraordinary commitment to public safety and the Huntington Police Department.

Due to failing health, Ritter regretfully retired from his seat on City Council. On Feb. 14, 2012 Mayor Kim Wolfe signed a resolution that recognized, honored, commended and thanked Ritter, community leader and friend, in recognition of the many benefits he had bestowed upon this community.

On May 24, 2014, he passed away leaving a legacy of service and dedication to the communities of Huntington. Congressman Nick J. Rahall, summarized Ritter's life as follows: "Councilman Jim Ritter was a man who worked so hard to protect and improve the lives of so many in Westmoreland and in the city he held so dear. He was a head-strong force of one."

Charles E. Chuch Romine

Chuck Romine moved to Huntington in the early 50s and immediately, as a teenager, fell in love with the city and its friendly people. He is a graduate of Huntington High School and Marshall University, with a bachelor's degree in management. While attending MU, he worked at locally owned businesses around town.

He is married to Phyllis Jean Cremeans Romine and has four children and six grandchildren.

He was appointed by State Farm Insurance Companies as an agent in September 1958. At age 22, he was probably the youngest State Farm Agent in the country at that time. He spent his career with State Farm, receiving many awards and honors. During his 14 years in management, he had responsibilities for Cabell, Wayne and Mingo counties and supervised as many as 18 agencies.

He started his community service career in October of 1958 by joining the Huntington Junior Chamber of Commerce (Jaycees). He proceeded through the chairs and served as president in 1964-65. During that year, the chapter completed 75 community projects.

In 1962 he was appointed to the board of directors of the Cabell-Wayne Mental Health Association and was elected president of the board in 1967.

In 1968, he was asked to run for the WV House of Delegates. He was elected and served two more terms, through 1974. He would go on to run again and serve one more term in 1998. His committee assignments included the finance, banking and insurance, health and human resources and education committees. He was involved in the initial fight for funding for the Marshal University Med School in 1974.

In 1968, Romine was selected by the Huntington Jaycees as Huntington's Outstanding Young Man for that year. He was also listed in the Who's Who in American Politics.

In 1974, he was asked to help organize a Goodwill Industries for the Huntington area. He served on that board for seven years, two of those years as president. He was reappointed to this board in 2001 and served for another six years.

In 1976 he was elected to the board of the Marshall University Alumni Association, chairing many committees during his 12 year of service. In addition he and his wife, Phyllis, established and endowed a scholarship in the Lewis School of Business and a partial scholarship in the School of Education.

In 1980, he was appointed to the board of directors of the Western WV chapter of the American Red Cross. He served a total of 16 years on this board.

He was a member of the Huntington Rotary from 1980 through 1992 and from 2000 to present. From 1992-2000 he was a member of the Milton Rotary Club.

Romine was a member of the Huntington Regional Chamber of Commerce from 1978 to the present time.

In 1999, he accepted an appointment to the Cabell Huntington Board of Health by the Cabell County Commission.

Romine was honored by being inducted as a 4-H All Star by the state of WV 4-H clubs in 2005.

He loves music and is involved when possible. He and his band played for President Gerald Ford. The band also played for Gov. Arch A. Moore, Jr. on several occasions. Romine plays multiple instruments and currently plays in the brass ensemble at his church.

Romine is now retired but continues to give of himself at every opportunity presented.

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