waterfounders

Family members were present for Friday’s unveiling of portraits of Beckley Water Company’s founders. Standing from left, are Jo-Ann Malcolm for Festus Scott, Charlie Farmer for Charles C. Farmer, William Warner Stanley for William A. Stanley, and Sharon Meador for Andrew C. Harvey. The four men, in 1922, teamed together to create the Beckley Electric Light and Power Co.

Although they have been gone for several decades, the legacy the four founding fathers of Beckley Water Co. left behind remains strong.

That legacy was evident Friday as special portraits of the men were unveiled and witnessed by family members during the company’s 81st annual stockholders meeting.

“It’s wonderful to see so many family members show up to celebrate this time,” said Matthew Stanley, president, CEO and chairman of the water company. “These (the founding fathers) are the industrialists — the ones that had the vision to build the companies that we all work for today.”

Honored with individual portraits created by Patrick Meadows, under the direction of Wendy Ackison of WWA Portraits in Fayetteville, were Festus Scott, Andrew C. Harvey, William A. Stanley and Charles C. Farmer.

The men, in 1922, teamed together to create the Beckley Electric Light and Power Co.

In 1928, after selling the power company to what is now American Electric Power, the company was incorporated as Beckley Water Co.

Stanley, the great-grandson of William A. Stanley, spoke of the uniqueness of the company founded nearly 81 years ago.

“A lot of people don’t realize this is a private utility,” he said. “We’re also celebrating the fact that we’re one of the largest privately owned, closely held water companies in the United States. If you think about many of the water companies that are private, they are huge conglomerates. So to stay independent (is rare).”

Each of the founding fathers was represented by a family member.

Scott was represented by his granddaughter, Jo-Ann Malcom; Harvey by his granddaughter, Sharon Meador; Stanley by his grandson, William Warner Stanley; and Farmer by his son, Charlie, the only surviving first-generation family member.

“I was old enough to remember when it was formed,” Farmer said, recalling the original building was a small structure adjacent to the company’s current location. “Dad stayed active in the company as secretary and treasurer until he was near 80 and I’m on the board now.

“He had a long life and a good life,” he continued. “I have four children and three grandchildren, and I hope they’ll stay in it and take part in it.”

Stanley said he was proud of the company and of the men who came before him.

“There’s a great sense of pride on my part,” he said. “I remember as a child wandering around this water company, so to be here, 81 years later, means a great deal.”

— E-mail: mjames@register-herald.com

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