WHEELING, W.Va. — Members of the Wheeling Hall of Fame Board announced the names of 10 individuals to be honored at its 2021 induction ceremony this fall. The announcement was made at a press conference Thursday inside WesBanco Arena by board Chairman Robert DeFrancis.
“The Wheeling Hall of Fame Board is pleased to be able to schedule this delayed induction ceremony. The pandemic made the process challenging, but this august body of inductees deserve traditional recognition by the city of Wheeling,” said DeFrancis.
The induction ceremony will take place on Friday, Sept. 10 inside WesBanco Arena. The catered dinner event is open to the public and will begin at 6 p.m. Tickets can be purchased online at wesbancoarena.com, by calling 304-233-7000, Monday through Friday, 10 a.m.- 4 p.m.
The Wheeling Hall of Fame was created by city council in 1977 and is on display inside WesBanco Arena. Inductees are classified into the categories of Business, Industry and Professions, Education and Religion, Music and Fine Arts, Public Service, Philanthropy and Sports and Athletics.
Also during the media announcement, the board showed off a recently completed year-long renovation project inside the arena.
“There are many people to thank for the upgrades to the Wheeling Hall of Fame at WesBanco Arena. The Hall’s permanent home shines much more brightly because of the Hall of Fame board, particularly Philip Stahl, the board’s secretary-treasurer; because of the significant labor through the Arena, guided by Dennis Magruder and performed by his hard-working staff; and because of the support provided by city officials,” said DeFrancis. “The hall’s inductees, their descendants, and the general public all should be pleased with this new look.”
Previously, the six Hall of Fame walls were painted black with shadow boxes mounted on the walls to accompany the inductee’s plaque. The shadow boxes eventually created less space for new inductee plaques over the years and a renovation was needed.
Beginning in the spring of 2019, WesBanco Arena staff, the City of Wheeling and the Hall of Fame board worked together to make the project happen. Maintenance staff at the arena removed all plaques and shadow boxes, painted the walls a brighter color and remounted all plaques in correct order. A local artist put the finishing touches on the walls with hand painted lettering signifying each category.
Inductees for the Class of 2021 are:
Lisa Allen (Business, Industry and Professions)
This chairman of the board of the Ziegenfelder Company made a career of making people smile and helping them find happy places. Her company manufactures and sells Budget $aver® Twin Pops nationwide – a top selling brand in the frozen category. Highly motivated and inspirational, Lisa has been responsible for strategic leadership in her 20-year career with the Ziegenfelder Tribe. During her tenure as president and CEO, she led the privately owned company through years of product development, growth, expansion, and profitability. Her legacy and vision for inspiring others, creating smiles, and impacting lives is a winning combination for the Ziegenfelder Tribe.
Karla Boos (Music and Fine Arts)
Eschewing theatrical comfort zones, this serious innovator founded Pittsburgh’s Quantum Theatre at 28 and remained its artistic director for decades. A graduate of Mount de Chantal Visitation Academy, she attended Bethany College, the University of Pittsburgh, and California Institute of the Arts. Inspired by the teaching nuns at the Mount, she also counted Hal O’Leary of Oglebay Institute’s Towngate Theatre and famed Pittsburgh playwright August Wilson as mentors. Member of the National Theatre Conference, the International Women’s Forum, and recipient of both the Carol R. Brown Award for Established Artist and its predecessor, the Pittsburgh Cultural Trust’s Creative Achievement Award for Emerging Artist.
James Buchanan ‘J.B.’ Chambers, 1854–1933 (Philanthropy)
This consummate philanthropist was born on a farm in rural Ohio County, West Virginia. He attended various schools where he received his academic training for a career in business and banking. A successful farmer and banker, he created the J.B. Chambers Memorial Foundation to serve youth of the greater Wheeling area. Projects include the baseball and softball complex at I-470, Performing Arts Center at Wheeling Park High School, Chambers Family YMCA, Chambers Memorial Recreation Park, Wheeling Park Ice Rink, soccer fields at Wheeling Park, Miracle League Field at the I-470 complex, NASA Challenger Learning Center summer camp, and youth scholarships for creative programs at Oglebay Institute.
Ronald J. DiLorenzo, 1947–2019 (Education and Religion)
A loving and dedicated husband, father, teacher, counselor, musician, and friend, Ron DiLorenzo’s reputation as an entertainer and an educator reflected his incredible musical talent and people skills. Employed by Ohio County Schools for 42 years, he was well known as the Dean of Students at Wheeling Park High School, where he was honored as the 1999-2000 Educator of the Year. The 2007 West Virginia Department of Education Character Educator of the Year Award, in recognition of his exemplary reputation, was a well-deserved tribute for a true gentleman and man of character. He was a model of faith, integrity, respect, love, laughter, and family first.
Beverly Allen Balch Fluty, 1931-2009 (Public Service)
A New Englander by birth, a medical technologist by training, Bev Fluty was Wheeling’s “unstoppable” historic preservationist. She worked tirelessly to promote and to save Wheeling’s National Historic Landmarks: West Virginia Independence Hall and the Suspension Bridge. She lectured; conducted field trips for the city’s school children; served on the board of the Wheeling National Area Corporation; advised the National Trust for Historic Preservation and the National Park Service; helped develop Oglebay Institute’s Glass Museum; and provided research for books, articles, and pamphlets. She became the face of Wheeling’s preservation, duly earning accolades as its most astute and dedicated champion.
R. Douglas Huff (Sports and Athletics)
A pioneer in national, state, and local high school sports media throughout a five-decade career, Doug Huff was an honored daily newspaper sports editor and columnist during 44 years with The Intelligencer. He was a contributor to national publications, an author, and sports historian. The second newspaper journalist inducted into the National High School Sports Hall of Fame, he was selected West Virginia Sports Writer of the Year a record nine times. He compiled the first national, state, and Ohio Valley high school sports records used by the National Federation of High School Associations to start its record book and used by the state Sports Writers Association and OVAC.
Donald W. Levenson, 1919–1978 (Business, Industry and Professions)
A graduate of Carnegie Institute of Technology, Donald Levenson worked for RCA during World War II, inventing the “Echo Box,” for which he received a presidential citation. While helping to manage his family’s business, Reichart Furniture Company, Levenson incorporated Wheeling Antenna Company in 1952, making Wheeling one of the first cities in the country with cable television. With WACO, Levenson developed a number of inventions, becoming in 1973 the first person recognized by the National Cable Television Association for outstanding engineering contributions to cable television. Levenson’s work with WACO helped to revolutionize the cable television industry locally but also throughout the United States.
Hugh Nevin Stobbs, 1935–2020 (Sports and Athletics)
Hugh Stobbs forever changed the face of fitness running in Wheeling. He was a graduate of Linsly Military Institute and West Virginia University, where he earned his bachelor’s and master’s degrees, in addition to six years of military service in the Army Reserves and West Virginia National Guard. In 1976, Hugh founded the inaugural Elby’s First National Bank 20-kilometer Distance Classic (now known as the Ogden Half-Marathon) and continued as its race director for the next 25 years. During those years, this annual race had been a United States Olympic team-qualifying event and the U.S. 20-kilometer national championship and was ranked as one of the top 10 road-racing events in the country.
William Edward ‘B.E.’ Taylor, 1951-2016 (Music and Fine Arts)
B.E. Taylor is a nationally recognized songwriter and recording and performing artist. Moving to Wheeling in the mid 1980’s, his band, the B.E. Taylor Group, had a Billboard regional number one hit with “Vitamin L.” He led the house band and co-hosted the nationally recognized, awarded, and syndicated Christian music video show, “LightMusic.” In 1994, he founded his own record label through which he released a B.E. Taylor Christmas, featuring his unique interpretation of many songs of Christmas. This led to the annual B.E. Taylor Christmas Tour. He recorded six solo albums. Talent, passion, and compassion are qualities that endeared him to his audience.
Rev. Dr. Bonnie Bowman Thurston (Education and Religion)
Teacher, pastor, preacher, scholar, author, ecumenical and interfaith partner, poet are a few titles applying to Rev. Dr. Bonnie Thurston. Born in Bluefield, WV, raised in Beckley, she earned her bachelor degree from Bethany College and master’s and Ph.D. from the University of Virginia. Ordained to ministry in the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), also affiliated with the Episcopal Church U.S.A., she has pastored numerous churches and taught at the university level for 30 years. She is a world-renowned author on the New Testament, prayer, and especially Catholic spiritual pioneer Thomas Merton. She has authored or edited 29 books including six volumes of poetry.
Wheeling Hall of Fame Board Members: Chairman Robert DeFrancis, Vice-Chair Jeanne Finstein, Secretary-Treasurer PhilipStahl, F. Wayne Barte, Dick Coury, Rev. Darrell W. Cummings, Ben Exley IV, George Frazier, Jay Frey; Jon-Erik Gilot, David Javersak, Charles J. Kaiser, Kim McCluskey, Kelly Rine, Council Representative Jerry Sklavounakis, Dianna Vargo, Chris Villamagna, Rev. Bob Willits and Maureen Zambito