Hometown Hero: Randolph Jennings reflects on 99th birthday

Published: Nov. 30, 2022 at 8:07 AM EST
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BLUEFIELD, W.Va. (WVVA) - Recognizing the things Rudolph Jennings accomplished in his 99 years of life seems fitting as he earns Hometown Hero accolades between Election Day and Veteran’s Day.  Jennings spent decades in West Virginia politics, an endeavor he started when he returned from Europe at the end of World War II.

His family, friends, and well-wishers came together for a surprise birthday party in late October to help Jennings celebrate his 99th birthday‌ at the VFW in Bluefield, Virginia, a fewmiles from his current and boyhood home in Mercer County.  Even after 70 years, the images etched in his mind from his time in the U.S. Army Air Corps are vivid.   Jennings technically started public service when he enlisted after graduating from Sherman High School in 1941.  He spent the next three years in Europe as part of the Allied forces fighting the Germany, “There was terrible things and there are still terrible things going on, not even war in some of these countries. What I think and a lot of my friends think about you talking about World War II it was a war against Socialism, and Nazism and fascism we were fighting for our country. And that’s what we felt like, you know, " said Jennings.

He returned from the war, enrolled in Mooris Harvey College, then went on to graduate school at Marshall University.  Jennings says he also pursued his childhood dream of politics, It is not really widely known is the fact that I run for the house of delegates when I was, after I come out of the army.  years ago, I run for the house of delegates in Boone County. I got beat but the man that beat me was a in the house of delegates then, he was a banker, had the money. But it was my feeling that I wanted to do something for people.” Jennings said.

Eventually, Randolph won a seat representing Mercer County in the House of Delegates, but after a single term, he says he was convinced to run for the County Clerk’s office in Mercer County.  He says he served in that role from 1980 through 1995.  He was inspired to enter politics when he was very young, “I grew up being, my teachers instructed me and my family, we believed in politics, we believed in winning. We believed in the kind of people that would be outstanding and people would vote for you because of what you knew and what you were., now, what do they do, they vote for you for how much money you got.”  Jennings said, adding that he still hopes for better in our political leaders, “What I would like to see people do, just like I said, somebody be somebody with a good character that really wanted to help the public, do something for the people and be nominated on that basis, not the fact of how much money you raise,” said Jennings.

At 99, Jennings is still active as co-owner of an AM radio station in Pineville, West Virginia.  Hi on-air persona is Mr. J. and he’s planning a new show, “This riding with Rudy, I’m starting a new radio show now. And what it’s going to be, I’m going to back to the depression days. People didn’t, to let people understand what happened during the days of the depression. Then I’m going to have, like I did on some of my other broadcasts, got politics, news and music. I’ll have a lot of music from that particular era.” he said.

He does offer some advice to the new generation from his own life experience, “Society needs to get back to the family meal at night and sit down and you ask about who is my hero, naturally, my father was. Sat down at the evening meals, you know, they found out if I had problems at school, and they would know. You know, and if I had trouble, your sister would tell on you so you might as well confess,” Jennings said with a chuckle and a twinkle in his eye. His pleasant demeanor, willingness to serve, and his service to the country are just some of the qualities that makes Randolph “Rudy” Jennings a Hometown Hero.