We Have Lost a Great Friend

Dr. Wayne Campbell Spiggle, Jr. devoted husband and father, physician lover of the outdoors and a West Virginia Highlands Conservancy member and Board member, died on Friday, July 31, 2020. 

Dr. Spiggle was born in Davis, WV, September 1, 1934 to Wayne C. Spiggle, Sr. and Margaret Lenora (Gnegy) Spiggle. He was educated in Davis public schools and later attended Berea College where he received his B.A. degree in agriculture. He later entered Medical School in West Virginia University and also studied at the Medical College of Virginia, followed by his internship in Charleston. He specialized in internal medicine for three years at WVU.

He was dedicated to his family, medicine, agriculture, and environmental protection and served all with passion and honor. He was a co-founder of the Braddock Medical Group where he worked for 37 years, attending physician at both Sacred Heart and Memorial Hospitals, attending physician in the Allegany Community College and Sacred Heart Hospital cardiac rehabilitation program, a clinical instructor at the University of Maryland’s School of Medicine, medical director of the Fort Ashby Medical Foundation Clinic, President of Med Chi the Maryland State Medical Society, member of the Executive Committee of the Sacred Heart Hospital’s medical staff, as well as an associate of the American Thoracic Association and the American Society of Internal Medicine.

He and his wife, Betty, owned and operated a beef cattle farm in Short Gap, WV. He was named Farmer of the Year in 1982 by the Mineral County Soil Conservation Committee, outstanding district tree farmer in 1983 by the West Virginia State Forestry Department, and was cited in the Potomac Valley Soil Conservation District. Dr. Spiggle hosted Markus Witschi from Hindelbank, Switzerland through the International 4-H Youth Exchange to teach him American farming customs. He was the chairman of the Board of Visitors for the University of Maryland’s Appalachian Environmental Laboratory at Frostburg, president of the Nemacolin Chapter of Trout Unlimited, and a member of the West Virginia Conservancy, the Maryland Conservation Council, and the Citizen’s Coalition on Surface Mining. His citizen activities included membership with Allegany County Chamber of Commerce, Mineral County Farm Bureau, and the Frostburg State College Foundation Executive Committee. He was elected and served as Mineral County Commissioner for six years.

Some of the many awards he was granted over the years include: 1990 A.H. Robins Award for community service, named the 2013 Most Loyal West Virginia Physician by the West Virginia University
School of Medicine Alumni Association, and was elected to the Alpha Omega Alpha Honor Medical Society for his work as a preceptor in the AHEC Clinical Education Program. He was awarded the 1991 Public Service Award from Common Cause/West Virginia for taking the lead in banding together a group of citizens in Mineral and Allegany Counties to form a coalition in fighting a landfill site that posed a hazard to the environment, helped develop Allegany Health Right to insure treatment for low income citizens, and, was instrumental in creating WVRx a public-private partnership that works with pharmaceutical companies to dispense donated medicines to West Virginians who are without prescription drug insurance.

Dr. Spiggle was preceded in death by his father Wayne, mother Lenora, stepmother Isabel (Eshelman) Spiggle, brother David, and daughter Lynn. He is survived by his beloved wife Betty (Sutton) Spiggle, brother George and wife Nancy Spiggle, children, Sheryl and husband Jascha Lee, Lora and husband Dan Boe, Jennifer Suttie, Lee Brown and wife Pam, and, Dianne and husband Craig Scott. He also leaves his grandchildren, Jacob and Elliot Lee, Nick Yared, Kendall Harrison, Albert Boe, AndiJo Suttie, Ashlee and husband Ethan Cook, Ben Brown and wife Candace, Amber and husband Justin Nieves, and, Alyssa and Eliza Scott; and, his great grandchildren Finn, Emilia, Jocelyn and Alex Cook, Wyatt and Mason Nieves, and Jayce Grumblatt.

A tribute by Larry Thomas

July 31, I lost an incredibly special friend and mentor. 

I met Dr. Spiggle towards the end of 2009 when we were forming a regional nonprofit organization to provide environmental and other information on industrial and other projects proposed throughout the Allegheny Highlands. From the beginning we worked extremely hard getting the organization off the ground and then accomplishing the goals that were established. Afterwards, Dr. Spiggle agreed to become the Organizational Director when that organization became a member of the Highlands Conservancy. 

Throughout our friendship, Dr. Spiggle became a wonderful mentor for me. In addition to many subjects, I remember the hours and hours of discussions we had, me drawing on his many years’ experience of working in the environmental community. Then, there was writing articles and making presentations based on what we had learned from the extensive research we have completed. 

Even when he became unable to attend Highland Conservancy Board and other organization meetings I would call before each of the meetings and discuss everything on the agendas, seeking his opinion on the various issues. Then after the meetings I called to give him the full details of each meeting. He was so interested in keeping up with what was going on in each group. Even though he was not physically at the meetings, his opinions and council were right there at the table. 

I know how much I am going to miss his never-ending support. Dr. Spiggle has left me a wonderful gift of his knowledge and experiences that I will forever treasure.  Eleanor Roosevelt once said, “Many people will walk in and out of your life, but only true friends will leave footprints in your heart”. Dr. Spiggle has indeed left his footprints in my heart.  

A tribute by Cindy Rank

Every organization has a myriad of unsung, unrecognized, heroes, stalwarts for whatever cause(s) the organization is committed to. Individuals whose consistent, constant and firm support and actions behind the scene promote the health and well-being of others. Individuals who are willing to be on call, ready and able to speak and act on behalf of the group when called upon to do so. 

Wayne Spiggle was one of those people. His kind and selfless spirit permeated all that he did.

For WV Highlands Conservancy, Wayne’s commitment and enthusiasm expressed itself in his concern about the impacts of mining from at least the acid mine drainage woes of the late 1980s through the more recent mountaintop removal battles of the 2000s.  His concern focused on West Virginia to be sure, but he was also an outspoken opponent of steep slope mining in neighboring Maryland – especially in the Cumberland area where he practiced medicine.

His involvement in environmental health issues ranged from mining to deep shale gas development to wind turbines and how those activities affected persons living near the behemoth turbines or in communities plagued by water loss and pollution.

Whatever the battle, Wayne was there, if not always in person, certainly in spirit. Wayne’s profound interest in protecting the health and well-being of the earth and its human inhabitants was part and parcel of his efforts at spreading the word, educating folks as to why such concerns were so important.

From his official obituary it’s clear that we in the WV Highlands Conservancy were not the only beneficiaries of Wayne’s committed advocacy.  Community and religious groups throughout the region can boast of having Wayne embody the core of their mission.

All of us who have been graced with Wayne’s presence these many years will remember him fondly and with an immense amount of gratitude.