Givens remembered for commitment to serving others
WELLSBURG — Former West Virginia Delegate Roy Givens died Jan. 3. after a lifetime of helping others and a long list of political experience to show for it, according to friends and those who served beside him.
“He was dedicated to the people of Brooke County and Ohio County,” said Brooke County Commissioner Tim Ennis. “He was for the small towns. When he left the Legislature, he volunteered for county commissioner for about four years.”
Givens’ service began as a member of the 13th Combat Engineers, United States Army, from 1951-53. After his military service, he continued with a commitment of service starting with his election to the Brooke County Board of Education. He later served as the board’s president.
In addition, he was a member of the West Virginia House of Delegates from from 1978 to1990, from 1994 to 2002 and then again from 2008-12, resulting in a total of 24 years and a record for the House.
During that time, he served with seven governors, five House speakers and secured $60 million for a variety of projects, including the growth of the Brooke County Public Library, the creation of the Brooke Pioneer Trail, assisting the Brooke County 4-H, Brooke County Senior Center and local police and fire departments and the expansion of state Route 2.
“One of the memories I have is of a trip that he, his wife, Dolores (Staffileno) Givens, myself and Tim Ennis took to Washington, D.C.,” former state Senator Edwin Bowman said. “We went to meet with West Virginia Senator Robert Byrd to seek funding for the widening of Route 2. It was an experience we talked about frequently. Roy took the charge on that one.”
Givens was also active in non-legislative committees made apparent by his time as president of the Brooke County Commission on Aging and his chair position on the Juvenile Law Committee.
“I offer my admiration and respect for all the years of service Givens undertook,” said Bowman.
Givens’ service was recognized by a variety of organizations. He was presented with the Distinguished West Virginian Award in 2013 based on all he had done for his community, county and state. The award was presented by then-Governor Earl Ray Tomblin.
Givens’ time of military service inspired much of his time in office, during which time he also assisted efforts to secure funds for the construction of the state’s first veterans nursing home, establish the West Virginia Woman Veterans Memorial and to provide free license plates for veterans who were prisoners of war.
Ennis described Givens as “service-oriented.”
“I can say unequivocally that he always had the best interest of the people in mind,” added Bowman.
Givens was not only committed to the people of Brooke County, but also to his faith. He and his family attended The Community of Christ Church, where he was an ordained deacon.
Community of Christ pastor Joy Leasure said she has many memories of Givens.
“My grandaughters were about 12 at the time and always wanted to ride with Roy to church because he had such interesting stories to tell,” she said.
Leasure also described how after church she, Givens and other friends in the group called ” the dinner rascals” would go eat together.
“We always knew when it was time to leave because Roy would go ‘well,’ and that meant it was time to go,” Leasure said with a laugh.
The pastor went on to call Givens a good friend and gentleman, who was never one to brag.
Other awards for Givens included the Legislator of the Year Award, a Citizen of the Year Award, the James R. Lee Humanitarian Award, a Brooke-Hancock- Jefferson Metropolitan Planning Commission Public Service Award, W.Va. Veteran’s Affairs Veterans Council Award, a Legislators Award from the WVADD and Parents of Disabled Children in West Virginia, Brooke County Adult Literacy Volunteer of the Year Award and the Meritorious Award from the Employers Support of the Guard and Reserve West Virginia Committee.