Shirley Love, a state lawmaker and legendary West Virginia broadcaster who reported for five decades in television and radio, died Friday at 87.
Love was born in Oak Hill, West Virginia. In a 2018 biographical statement in The Herald-Dispatch in Huntington, Love listed his education as “Public High School, University of Hard Knocks.” In reality, Love graduated from Collins High School in Oak Hill.
Love initially studied to become a machinist and welder, according to a 1994 article in the Charleston Gazette. But he also had a great voice and often sang in church, so he began working as a broadcaster with WOAY radio.
As a journalist with WOAY, Love covered issues that ranged from mining disasters to high school football games. He was also an announcer for the program “Saturday Nite Wrestlin,” a famed show that West Virginia Public Broadcasting profiled in a 2018 episode of Inside Appalachia.
Following his career in broadcasting, Love went on to a long stint in politics, serving as a Democrat in the state Senate from 1994 until 2008, and in the state House of Delegates from 2016-2018.
Bill Sohonage, chairman of the Fayette County Democratic Executive Committee, said Love was “a legend, a lion and a life force.”
Gov. Jim Justice ordered that U.S. and state flags be flown at half-staff on Monday in honor of Love. “I grew up watching him on TV and listening to his voice,” Justice said in a press release on Friday. “I knew him very well. Cathy and I just want to pass on our thoughts and prayers to a great family and a great West Virginian that we’ve lost.”
U.S. Sen Joe Manchin also recalled Love’s time as a broadcaster, as well as a lawmaker. “After his broadcasting days were over, Shirley then served the great people of Fayette County in the state legislature for over two decades, fighting tirelessly for his constituents in Charleston,” Manchin said.
Editor’s note: A previous version of this story said Shirley Love began working with WOAY in the 1980s. He began working with WOAY in the 1950s.