November 13, 1923: Attorney Virginia Mae Brown Born in Putnam County

Nov 13, 2017

Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia / West Virginia State Archives

Attorney Virginia Mae Brown was born at Pliny, in Putnam County, on November 13, 1923. After graduating from the West Virginia University College of Law, she forged a pioneering career in government. In 1952—before she’d turned 30—Brown became the first woman to serve as assistant attorney general in West Virginia history.

In 1961, Governor Wally Barron named her West Virginia Insurance Commissioner, the first woman to hold that post in any state. The next year, Brown became the first woman ever appointed to a state Public Service Commission.

In 1964, she again broke new ground when President Lyndon Johnson appointed her as the first woman to serve on the Interstate Commerce Commission. Dubbed the “First Lady of Transportation” by a trade magazine, Brown served on the commission until 1979. After stepping down from the ICC, she returned to West Virginia and served on the board of a Putnam County bank and as chief administrative law judge for the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services in Charleston.

Virginia Mae Brown died of a heart attack at her Charleston home in 1991. She was 67 years old.