McGraws, West Virginia is a place like many other in the Mountain State: a small community clinging to the mountains and valleys for work and sustenance. Church and school are the core of the families' lives, and time has left it mostly unchanged.
Families who live there go back for generations. The McGraw family, for which it was named, goes back five generations, and is a common West Virginia name.
General Darrell V. McGraw, Jr., is the oldest of four sons born to Julia Zekany McGraw and the late Darrell V. McGraw. His childhood was like many of those who grew up in a rural coal mining area, except his family emphasized education over any other pursuit.
Attorney General McGraw has been a lifelong student, and his extensive knowledge includes West Virginia history and his family's roots. He considers his induction as a Knight of the Golden Horseshoe as one of his highest achievements. The award is given to a select few 8th graders for their performance on a West Virginia history test. He's proud of West Virginia like he's proud of his family.
His parents were schoolteachers and Christians. His mother and father were the most influential people in his life. His father was a voracious reader, and he was a high school principal. He taught General McGraw to constantly strive to improve himself and the community in which he lived. Affectionately known as
"The Judge" by all of West Virginia, McGraw has made history throughout his career as a champion of the people.
His family has been active in West Virginia as long as there has been a West Virginia. They were active in Virginia before that. The McGraws have a longstanding commitment to public service. Someone in each generation has served the public in some capacity. His family takes great pride in the history of that tradition.
McGraw was only 17 when he enlisted in the Army, and was soon thereafter sent off to Germany. McGraw's intelligence and drive made him successful in the Army. He was sent to Army Leadership School. McGraw enjoyed his time in the Army but he joined the Army with intentions to use the G.I. Bill to go to college.
McGraw knew that he wanted to make his life in West Virginia, and he knew from an early age that his calling was public service. In keeping with those goals, he chose to attend West Virginia University, and became Student Body President in his senior year.
Like most college students from middle-class families, he also had to work. Always the entrepreneur, promoter and hard worker, McGraw kept busy.
He worked as a janitor for the University, and was hired to promote products on campus, and started a business called the Happy Birthday Company.
He wrote letters to parents of his classmates and offered to deliver a cake to their son or daughter on their birthday. He paid someone to do the letters and labels, negotiated a deal with Mrs. Veasey to bake cakes, and hired his future brotherin- law to deliver them. He made a dollar per cake, which was pretty good money back then.
It was this background that led Joe Gluck, WVU's legendary dean of students and former Navy chaplain, to ask McGraw to help save the mast of the U.S.S. West Virginia.
Bombed and sunk during the attack on Pear Harbor, the U.S.S. West Virginia has been lauded as a symbol of the United States' resolve during World War II. The battleship was raised from Pearl Harbor, repaired and returned to action against the Japanese. After the war, the battleship was sold for scrap metal to be forgotten until Gluck and McGraw stepped in to save the mast. McGraw and others arranged to have the mast transported by railroad from the west coast.
The mast is now a permanent reminder of history of WVU's campus. General McGraw joins with the local VFW each year in remembrance of Pearl Harbor on December 7 at the mast.
General McGraw has used this same determination and appreciation of history in his role for twelve years as a Justice and Chief Justice on the West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals and in his current role as the 35th Attorney General of West Virginia.
On the West Virginia Supreme Court he was noted for his stance on adequate funding for local schools, protecting the rights of working people, and resisting the use of eminent domain for private purpose.
When McGraw was elected as Attorney General in 1992, he understood the role and the consequences of being the chief legal officer of the state.
Since being elected Attorney General in 1992, General McGraw has returned billions of dollars to West Virginia and its citizens for violations of the State's consumer protection act and antitrust laws. He has used the power of his office to stop the erosion of citizens' rights.
Despite his many accomplishments, Darrell McGraw remains a humble man, grounded in his roots. Like his father, he is a voracious reader, which has translated to a worldly understanding of today's financial market. "Ultimately, the Attorney General's Office is involved in protecting consumers in a financial transaction. It is what we do," the Judge said.
He is known for enjoying a good philosophical debate and a good joke.
General McGraw is most pleased by the support and compliments of the average citizen who calls his office as reflected in his statement, "We help 10,000 citizens a year. I am most proud of my work when I am out with the public and hear praise from a citizen we helped with some consumer issue. It makes it all worthwhile."
Additional Biographical Information
• Born November 8, 1936
• Raised in McGraws, Wyoming County, West Virginia
• Married to Jorea Marple, and has four children
• Attended West Virginia University, Graduated with B.A., M.A., and J.D.
• Awarded post-graduate Fellow/Scholar funded by the Ford Foundation
• Served as counsel to West Virginia Governor Hulett C. Smith
• Served as general attorney to the federal government in State Department
• Served as counsel to West Virginia Legislature
• Was in private practice from 1969-1976
• Justice of West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, 1976-1988
• Chief Justice of West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals, 1984 and 1988
• Elected as 35th West Virginia State Attorney General 1992-Current
(Elected 1992, 1996, 2000, 2004)
• Appointed to Council of State Governments by National Association of
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