Community, Education, Latest News

Nailler Foundation still in the running to make life better in Morgantown area

Charles R. Nailler wasn’t known for running track.

However, the internationally renowned mechanical engineer and coal mining innovator was always in a sprint to make things better in his adopted hometown of Morgantown.

Same for the surrounding region of north-central West Virginia and western Pennsylvania.

In fact, Nailler is still making laps for the cause – even 40 years after his death.

When high school runners from across the state gather Saturday morning at the Mylan Park Track Facility for the Morgantown Invitational track meet, they will be jumping, sprinting and relaying under his name, as it were.

The meet, which is the first home one hosted by Morgantown High School in this COVID-compromised season of spring sports, is annually sponsored by the Nailler Foundation, which Nailler’s son Tom established after his father’s passing.

“My dad was always working for the betterment of the community,” Tom Nailler said Wednesday of his father, who died in 1981 at the age of 71.

The foundation, his said, is known for its offerings to schools and nonprofits in the area, along with medical scholarships it doles out to students from needy households seeking to pursue careers as nurses and physicians.

In a town known for its high-profile benefactors, the Nailler Foundation keeps a steady, persistent pace – just like a long-distance runner, Tom Nailler said.

The board meets every September to go over its list of causes and needs here, he said.

“You know, it doesn’t always have to be a big offering,” he said.

“The people and organizations we’re able to help appreciate the money so much – and they do so much with it.”

Which was his father’s professional mantra, he said.

The elder Nailler, who was born and raised in Cleveland, joined the mining industry at a young age.

He went to work for a mine in 1933 his home state of Ohio that operated under Pittsburgh’s Consolidation Coal Co., now known as Consol Energy.

The company transferred him to Morgantown in 1946, where he was tasked with organizing Christropher Coal Co., which would turn out to a profitable enterprise under his direction through the downturns and peaks of the industry through the 1960s.

Along the way, his leadership was key in the development of continuous mining and longwall mining, which increased productivity by bounds.

In 1956, he went overseas to discuss coal, as the U.S. State Department’s representative at an international trade meeting in Geneva, Switzerland.

He was posthumously inducted into National Mining Hall of Fame in Leadville, Colo., in 2003.

Nailler mined the best in the community, also, his son said – with leadership roles in the Morgantown Chamber of Commerce and local Red Cross disaster relief committees, along with board posts on the Morgantown Water Commission and Housing Authority.

He also helped head the outreach agency, the Community Chest, which later morphed into the United Way here.

Tom Nailler remembers his father as quiet man quick to give full credit to subordinates while ducking the spotlight himself.

“My dad was an excellent teacher,” he said. “He never ‘demanded’ that you do something.”

Instead, his son said, suggestions were gently offered and alternatives were discussed.

“And you made the decision, whatever it was.”

Steve Blinco likes that dynamic.

He’s the MHS social studies and history teacher who is also head coach of the school’s track and field team.

Blinco said he’s using the Nailler Foundation model as a teachable moment in these unpredictable, pandemic times.

That is, he tells students in his class and on the track to put in the work and keep an even stride.

‘Hey,” he said. “All we can do is run and live day to day right now.”

TWEET @DominionPostWV