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MHS Class of 2023 distinguished alumni: The doctor without borders, the energy innovator, the beloved teacher and coach

The past president of Doctors Without Borders USA is heading this year’s class of distinguished alumni at Morgantown High School.

Dr. Darin Portnoy, who graduated from MHS in 1980, went on to become a physician recognized internationally for his commitment to medical humanitarian aid.

Portnoy embarked on his career as an infectious disease specialist at Tulane University, where he studied at the Tulane School of Public Health and Tropical Medicine. He also earned a degree in International Relations from Tulane.

He’s treated Navajo patients on reservations in New Mexico and run field operations across Uzbekistan, El Salvador and South Sudan, tending to refugees in medical crisis as president of Doctors Without Borders USA, a post he held from 2004-2008.

Portnoy was also vice-president of Doctors Without Borders International through 2015. He presently holds a seat on the committee of the Human Rights Watch. He lives in Brooklyn, N.Y. with his wife Glenda and their son, Benjamin, and practices medicine there.

At MHS he played varsity tennis and was on Student Council.

Portnoy is being honored with fellow graduates Eric Loth and the late John William “Bill” Douglas, who will take their places on the distinguished alumni hall at their alma mater. The induction ceremony will be 6:30 p.m. Dec. 15 in the MHS library.

Eric Loth

Loth, who graduated in 1979, has been heralded internationally for his work with wind turbines and other alternative energy sources.

He has been recognized by both NASA and Oxford for that work and research in a pursuit that began at WVU, where he earned his first degree in aerospace engineering. After that, it was Penn State for graduate school, then the University of Michigan for his doctorate in that field.

Loth also studied at the Harvard Business School.

NASA recognized him with its patent application award and Popular Science made note also, profiling him in a recent “Brilliant Minds Behind the New Energy Revolution” issue.

Loth and his wife Marie live in Charlottesville, Va., where he serves on the engineering faculty of the University of Virginia and directs Fluids Innovation and Research Laboratory there.

He was in the National Honorary Society and Math Honorary at Morgantown High, and also played tennis.

Bill Douglas

Douglas had a lifelong personal and professional association with his high school alma mater.

After starring in football, baseball and track, the 1956 graduate enrolled at WVU, earning degrees in education, biology and health and safety. He also held a doctorate from Ohio State University.

Douglas taught and coached at Glenville State and Kentucky Wesleyan University, before returning to Morgantown, where he served as chair of the Department of Physical Education.

He retired from WVU in 2001 as dean of the School of Physical Education and Sports Studies, with a wall of national and state awards. WVU inducted him into its Order of Vandalia and named him an Outstanding Alumnus.

At MHS, Douglas also sang in the choir and was in the Hi-Y club. His children are also Morgantown High graduates. Douglas died in 2022.

His wife, Karen, lives in South Carolina.

MHS boosters like to say that things don’t begin and end with Barney Fife at their school.

That’s in reference to Don Knotts (Class of 1942), the comedic actor who won five Emmy awards for his portrayal of the aforementioned bumbling character in the Andy Griffith television show in the 1960s.

Another noted alum is Thomas “Tommy” Bennett (1965) who was posthumously recognized with the Medal of Honor for his bravery in Vietnam. He was a combat medic who died while saving lives.

Other past honorees include Emily Calandrelli, an MIT-trained engineer, television space show host and children’s book author; and Trevor Nicholas, a singer and actor who has starred on Broadway and London’s West End.