Southern W.Va. businessman James 'Buck' Harless dies - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Southern W.Va. businessman James 'Buck' Harless dies

James H. 'Buck' Harless; source: James H. 'Buck' Harless; source:

GILBERT (WVVA) - Southern West Virginia coal and timber businessman James H. 'Buck' Harless has died. He was 94.

Harless' executive assistant Sharon Murphy tells the Associated Press that Harless died at his Gilbert home Wednesday night after a brief illness.

Harless, of Gilbert in Mingo County, grew his Gilbert Lumber Company into the multi million-dollar International Industries Inc., according to his biography at

Harless was a prominent philanthropist, giving to many state organizations -- including Marshall and West Virginia universities.

Harless was inducted into both the West Virginia Coal Hall of Fame and West Virginia Business Hall of Fame

He also played a key role in George W. Bush's presidential campaigns in West Virginia.

U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall released the following statement on Harless' death:

"In his long life, Buck Harless made many fortunes, but the one he prized the most was the fortune of friends he amassed throughout the years.  He was as loyal a friend as they come to the families of Gilbert, Mingo County and West Virginia.  He was what we need more of in this world, a man integrity, intellect, innovation and above all initiative.  Buck could make things happen, and for the better.  His entrepreneurism was one of sharp mind rivaled only by giving heart; this titan of industry proved time and again to be a gentle giant of generosity.  My thoughts and prayers are with Hallie, his family and his countless friends."

U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin released the following:

"Buck Harless was a dear friend not only to me, but to all of West Virginia," said Senator Manchin. "Gayle and I are deeply saddened to learn of his passing, and we extend our condolences to his wife Hallie, his entire family and to all of those who were touched by his exceptional life. I will always remember and admire Buck's passion to make West Virginia a better place to work and to live, and his contributions to our state, particularly to our coal industry, state education programs and Boy Scouts of America, will never be forgotten. Buck was, and will continue to be an inspiration to me and so many others in this state, and he will be deeply missed." 

U.S. Sen. Jay Rockefeller released the following:

"Buck's impact on West Virginia was significant. He worked to make a better life for himself, his family and his community, and his efforts created jobs and opportunities for southern West Virginia. Buck's concern for his fellow West Virginians was evident in efforts, whether through providing health care resources for thousands, recreational programs for members of the community or the thousands of jobs he created as a businessman, made immeasurable contributions to communities in our state. I join with West Virginians everywhere in mourning the loss, and my prayers are with his family during this difficult time."


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