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‘History Wednesdays’ return to St. Mark’s Episcopal Church in St. Albans

By Ben Calwell, Metro Reporter
Gene Worthington of Fayetteville portrays President Theodore Roosevelt during the June 21 kick-off of St. Mark’s Epsicopal Church’s “History Wednesdays” series. Worthington is part of the West Virginia Humanities Council’s History Alive! program. History Wednesdays is a six-week series featuring noted figures from history, followed by interactive activities.

Theodore Roosevelt helped kick off St. Mark’s Episcopal Church’s “History Wednesdays” series on June 21. The leader of the Rough Riders in the Spanish-American War, who became America’s 26th president, held his audience’s attention in the church sanctuary.

Roosevelt was portrayed by Gene Worthington of Fayetteville, who is with the West Virginia Humanities Council’s History Alive! program.

This is the second year for History Wednesdays; it’s a six-week series featuring famous people in history, followed by interactive activities that tie in with each week’s speaker. It is offered from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. each Wednesday through July 26 at the church, 405 B St., St. Albans. The cost is $5 per person for each session and includes snacks and materials. Pre-registration is encouraged, but walk-ins are welcome.

The series, which is geared toward ages 10 and older, is sponsored by St. Mark’s Episcopal, with support from the St. Albans Historical Society, the St. Albans Branch Library and “some local businesses, which we appreciate,” said Nancy Tonkin, an organizer of History Wednesdays.

Each presentation is followed by workshop activities that help focus on that particular Wednesday’s speaker.

“We’re going to make Teddy bears later, because of Teddy Roosevelt,” Tonkin said, prior to Worthington’s performance as Roosevelt. “And because of his establishment of the national park system, we’re going to do a brief program about the national park system.”

Four of the six speakers are from the West Virginia Humanities Council’s History Alive! program.

The first woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for literature, Edith Wharton (portrayed by Karen Vuranch), is the speaker on Wednesday, July 5. Wharton was also a war correspondent during World War I.

“We pulled her in because of World War I and Nitro’s 100th anniversary,” Tonkin said.

Col. Ruby Bradley (portrayed by Becky Park), is the speaker for the last session on July 26.

“She has Clay County roots.”

The remaining History Wednesdays schedule is as follows:

• June 28: Benjamin Franklin (portrayed by Leon Alexander) -- revolutionary, founding-father, printer, scientist, inventor, journalist and the only founding father to sign the Declaration of Independence, the Treaty of Paris and the United States Constitution.

• July 5: Edith Wharton (portrayed by Karen Vuranch)

• July 12: Gabriel Arthus (portrayed by Doug Wood); Arthur is believed to be the first white man to see the Kanawha Valley while traveling with a band of Indians in 1674. During his time, he followed the Big Coal River to its mouth at the Kanawha River.

• July 19: Eleanor Roosevelt (portrayed by Patty Cooper); during the 12 years Eleanor Roosevelt served as first lady, she changed how the public viewed the role of the president’s wife. She was a vocal champion of social reform and human rights and traveled widely representing the president. Her efforts, on behalf of the founding of the towns of Eleanor in Putnam County and Arthurdale in Preston County in 1934, are projects for which she is well remembered in West Virginia.

• July 26: Col. Ruby Bradley (portrayed by Becky Park); Ruby Bradley was serving in the mountains of Luzon, Philippine Islands, when the Japanese struck Hawaii and points along the Pacific Coast. Bradley retired in 1963 as the most decorated woman in the Army.

For more information or to register, call St. Mark’s Episcopal Church, 304-722-4284 or send email to The web address is


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