Ruth E. Webb has established the John W. Eye Family Educational Fund at the Beckley Area Foundation in memory of her father and in honor of the family members who have contributed to the success of the business he established.
Born Sept. 27, 1895, John W. Eye was the son of Caleb L. Eye and Mary J. Garten Eye. He was raised on a farm in New, Raleigh County, and served in the military during World War I. Upon returning home, he married Gertrude Richmond and moved to Beckley. John worked in retail for a time and then in 1938 he established a radio repair business which later expanded into sales of appliances, televisions and furniture.
Members of his family have been an integral part of the business, working at the store until their own retirement. Daughters Gladys Lafferty, Ina Maples and Hallie McGinnis served as treasurer, secretary and credit manager respectively. Ruth helped with bookkeeping when John started the radio repair business in 1938, but her marriage to Edgar L. Webb then took her out of state. She returned to Raleigh County in August 1989.
Currently John Lee Eye is president of John Eye Big Sandy, carrying on his father’s tradition of providing good service for the customers and the community.
In addition to his role in the business community, John W. Eye was an avid huntsman. He enjoyed hunting and fishing, and was an active member of the Beckley Hunting Club. He was a member of the American Legion, the Elks Club, the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce and First United Methodist Church. He was also a charter member of the Flat Top Lake Association.
John W. Eye died in January 1981 and his wife Gertrude died in 1984. Their daughter Ina Eye Maples died Jan. 2, 2012. In addition to her years of service as the secretary at John W. Eye Co., she was a former secretary for the president of the Raleigh County National Bank.
The John W. Eye Family Educational Fund is a permanent endowment at the Beckley Area Foundation. Income from the fund shall be used for scholarships for college students from Raleigh, Fayette, Summers, Monroe or Wyoming counties. Recipients must be junior or senior students with a 2.5 or better academic average attending an accredited West Virginia college or university pursuing a degree in business or finance. Both merit and need shall be considered in selecting the recipients. The scholarship may be renewed for a second year if the recipient maintains a 2.5 or better average and carries a full academic load. The first scholarship will be awarded in the spring of 2014.
Bill O’Brien, BAF Board member and friend of Ruth Webb, commented, “Successful locally owned businesses give back to our community by providing both employment opportunities and customer service. Ruth Webb’s generous gift demonstrates the family’s willingness to support the people of this area.”
As in the case of all BAF endowments, anyone may make additional gifts in any amount to this fund. Make checks payable to BAF-Eye Family Educational Fund and mail to Beckley Area Foundation, 129 Main St., Suite 203, Beckley, WV 25801. The family will be notified of all memorial and honorary donations without reference to the amount.