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Senate honors Warren McGraw, former state senator and Supreme Court chief justice

MORGANTOWN — The state Senate on Thursday stood to honor the life and work of Warren Randolph McGraw, former state delegate and senator, county prosecutor and judge, and Supreme Court Justice.

The senators unanimously approved SR 56, honoring McGraw, and presented members of his family with a copy.

As the resolution details, he was born May 10, 1939, in Wyoming County, and passed away June 14, 2023.

Included in his education was graduate work at WVU. He served two terms in the House of Delegates starting in 1969, and then was elected to the Senate and began serving there in 1973. He served two terms as Senate president starting in 1981.

McGraw was elected to the Supreme Court in 1998 and served as chief Justice in 2001. Following his time in the Senate, he was elected Wyoming County Circuit Court judge until his retirement in 2021.

After the reading of the resolution, several senators rose to praise McGraw. The first was Sen. Mike Oliverio, R-Monongalia.

“The real test of a man’s successful life is that he produced three wonderful children,” he said. McGraw’s son, Randolph, served in the House with Oliverio. Daughter Suzanne was a House committee counsel and daughter Rebecca is a successful physician.

Sen. David Stover, R-Wyoming, was brought to tears recalling their friendship.

He remembered sitting in front of a tiny store in the tiny town of Pierpoint in 1967, and a young man pulled up to the store in his car and got out.

“This guy walked up to us smiling from ear-to-ear and said, ‘Hello fellers. I’m Warren McGraw and I’m going to be your next delegate.’ And he was, and the rest is history.”

Stover said he was told a story of when McGraw ascended to Senate president. “He saw 33 sharks, perhaps all of them wanting to devour him and take that job.”

He asked McGraw about that. “I said, ‘Surely not.’” McGraw answered, “’Oh yeah, they like me OK. That’s not the point, that’s the way the game is played.”

Weeping, Stover said, “He was an honorable man through and through.”

Sen. Mike Caputo, said that as a coal miner and union representative, he knew of McGraw’s work. “He was a true advocate for working-class folks.”

Caputo made friends in the Legislature with Randolph, he said, who told many stories about “Daddy.” And when he met McGraw, “We became instant friends.”

He helped McGraw in his political campaigns, he said. Of McGraw and his family, “They never hid their love for coal miners in particular and their love for the UMWA. … That man never, ever forgot where he came from.”


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