In Memoriam: Buck Harless

BuckHarless_MUJacket_square_graybackgroundPresident Stephen J. Kopp issued the following statement about James H. “Buck” Harless, who passed away Jan. 1:

“Truly the rarest of the exceptional human beings who have graced our world, James H. “Buck” Harless was a devoted West Virginian who dedicated himself to making this state a better place to live, work and raise a family. He was renowned for his business acumen and esteemed by the elite and well-connected. He was a touchstone for political aspirants; however, it was the countless lives of everyday people he touched through his generosity, caring and willingness to share his wisdom that set him apart. His love of the people of West Virginia was genuine and endeared him to all who knew him. He understood the virtue of hard work and lived it every day, even at the age of 94. He understood the virtue of compassion for others less fortunate and was the embodiment of a life well-lived. I regard Buck as a legend who exemplified the power of serving and the virtue of empowering others.

Buck was revered by the Marshall University community and we thank him for all he has done for the people of West Virginia and Marshall University. The greatest honor he could have bestowed on us was the ‘Harless’ name. It is a proud and lasting legacy that affirms the profound influence that he had on this university, our people and our beloved state.”

Harless was born in Taplin, in Logan County, on Oct. 14, 1919, but lived most of his life in Gilbert, W.Va. He enjoyed success in the timber and coal industries, and was Chairman of the Board with International Industries Inc. He was past chairman of the Marshall University Board of Advisors and a former member of the Marshall University Foundation Board.

Harless also received an honorary doctorate from Marshall, was named to the Marshall University Business Hall of Fame, and received the John Marshall Medal of Civic Responsibility.

His generous financial contributions have supported the Buck Harless Student Athlete Program at Marshall, and the June Montgomery Harless Center for Rural Educational Research & Development at Marshall is named for his late wife. The Harless Dining Hall at Marshall, which opened in January 2004, also is named for him. And, the Harless Auditorium at the Marshall University Medical Center is named after Buck’s late son, Larry Joe Harless.

Harless also was one of the first contributors to the Society of Yeager Scholars at Marshall University.


Click to visit Buck Harless tribute Web page.

Photo: James H. “Buck” Harless speaks at Marshall University during dedication of the Harless Dining Hall in 2004. Photo by Rick Haye/Marshall University.