Former Ronceverte Mayor Blake Passes, Flag Flown At Half Staff - West Virginia Daily News
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Former Ronceverte Mayor Blake Passes, Flag Flown At Half Staff

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A former Ronceverte Mayor passed away on November 2.

Virginia “Gin” Blake passed away at age 99, born on December 15, 1921, in Ronceverte.

On November 8, current Ronceverte Mayor Deena Pack announced the city’s flag would be flying at half staff in her memory.

“The flag located on the Island Park is currently at half staff in memory and in recognition of Virginia Blake,” wrote Pack. “She was formerly the Mayor of Ronceverte and spent many years serving our City. Ms. Blake was involved in many community activities over the years and her love of Ronceverte was clear for all to see. May she Rest In Peace.”

Former Ronceverte Mayor Virginia “Gin” Blake

Island Park was one place that flourished under her two terms as mayor, the first from 1973 to 1979 and the second from 1991 to 1994.

“Gin, as she was affectionately known, … participated in the refurbishing of Island Park and the William A. Boone Memorial Fountain to the enhancement of the Park,” reads her obituary. “In addition, she achieved the first full park in the county by adding tennis courts, basketball courts, walking trail, amphitheater, boat launch, picnic areas and two shelters, a swimming pool, and extensive playground equipment. She also made improvements to the horseshoe area, ball fields, and added a skating rink.”

Her obituary highlights some of her infrastructure achievements in town, a legacy the current and just past administration is hoping to continue with water and sewer improvements.

“She was instrumental in acquiring the City’s first public housing, a library, the county landfill, and the first boundary changes,” the obituary continues. “She had the ‘back’ road to Ronceverte, now called Rocky Hill Road, opened up and paved. She was also involved in the building of four new developments: the Brier Hills Addition, Totten Circle, the O’Brien Addition, and Ballard Ave.”

Her involvement in the community was also not limited to government exclusively.

“She served as president of the Ronceverte Merchants Association; co-chaired Ronceverte’s Centennial Celebration in 1982; served on Board of Directors of the Ronceverte Festival; Chairman of Board of Directors of Shenandoah Manor, now The Brier, in Ronceverte; Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Ronceverte Public Library; Manager of Riverview Apartments for over 20 years; and was Senior Warden of Church of the Incarnation, Episcopal in Ronceverte, and also held all other positions on the Ventry.”

Blake was also a writer, beginning “at Greenbrier High School in Ronceverte, where she was Editor In Chief of ‘The Gossip.’” This career continued long after high school, going on to be Associate Editor for The West Virginia Daily News, this very newspaper.

Former West Virginia Daily News Editor Tina Alvey wrote about Blake in the Beckley Register Herald in 2016, where the town and former mayor David Smith celebrated her work. In this piece, Alvey explains Blake “was married to the late Norman Blake, owner and editor of the West Virginia News, whose family started the paper in April 1901. The family also started and ran The Valley Messenger and News prior to that date, at which time it was absorbed into the West Virginia News.”

Her work also led to a long list of accolades.

“Virginia was named Woman of the Year by the Lewisburg Business and Professional Woman’s Club in 1979, received a Certificate of Appreciation from the Eastern Greenbrier Jaycees, was named Manager of the Year for Elderly FHA housing in 1988, Ronceverte Citizen of the Year in 1992, and she received the Celebrate Women award from the GFWC, West Virginia Woman’s Club, and she was a 74 year member of the Ronceverte Woman’s Club,” her obituary reads.

Ronceverte City Hall’s Facebook page, run by City Hall staff, also honored her leadership.

“Virginia was authentic and genuine and taught us leadership by example,” reads the post. “She loved this city and its people. We will miss her and continue to pray for her family.”

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