He didn’t leave here because of a lack of options.
In fact, he loved his life in Wheeling after being graduated from Wheeling Park High School in 1978. Employment was easy to find, the camaraderie among the citizens was healthy, and he enjoyed the long list of “things to do” in the region.
“In 1978 it was a crazy time for someone of my age at that time because it was the disco era, and even the Pirates Cove was still open,” recalled Clearview native Scott Mumper. “It was a great time in Wheeling; it really was, and as far as the job market, it was still there.
“I had several jobs after high school because there were jobs to be found, and my sisters all found employment in this area, too,” he continued. “Jobs were not that big of an issue at that time, but that certainly changed a bit later on. When the factories started closing down, that’s when the people started to leave the area, and the young people knew they would have to do the same.”
Instead, Mumper made the decision to join the United State Air Force to serve the country while learning a skill set for a professional career.
“I got on that bus, went to Pittsburgh, and that’s when I joined the Air Force, and I haven’t lived here in the Wheeling area ever since,” Mumper said. “I was attending West Virginia Northern Community College at the time I made that decision because I would speak with a recruiter from time to time. I was looking for something that would give me the skill set that I needed to have a professional career, and it appeared to me that the Air Force was the way to go.
“Initially, I went to San Antonio like everyone else that enters the Air Force, and after that I was stationed in Hawaii as a communications guy,” he remembered. “From there I talked to the submarines and the ships we had out there. I was doing things that I never thought I would be able to do. A kid from Wheeling sending out EAMs (Emergency Action Message)? Now, I never knew if I was training or if I was sending out real messages, but I never dreamed I’d by that guy.”
Military Occupational Specialty
Mumper served six years active duty with the USAF in communications and also with the Office of Special Investigations before choosing to join the reserves and accept a position as a federal agent with several agencies and work in criminal investigations, white-collar crime, Medicare fraud, presidential protection, and health and human services.
“For a time, I was the guy who was called in to do the subject interviews,” Mumper revealed. “After the investigators would work up great cases, I was the guy who went in and got the confessions.
“I was also a tech guy, so I worked with the wires and the body cameras and things like that,” he continued. “The best part was that I got to work with a lot of amazing people while we covered all of California, Arizona, Hawaii, and Guam.”
Following two years of employment in the private sector, Mumper was called back to service by the federal government. The Department of Defense asked him to work with the Defense Criminal Investigative Service, an anti-terrorism unit, and to this day he cannot discuss those seven years.
“It was interesting,” he quipped. “But, um, no, but that day changed everything with traveling, security; it really changed our way of life,” he said. “There was an innocence lost that day, no question about it.
“And these days I can tell you there are a lot of folks out there who want to disrupt our way of life, and when you live in a free society like we do, it’s really not that hard,” Mumper said. “We have seen the evil people can do, like what took place in Texas and in Las Vegas, because if there is someone who is hellbent on taking large amounts of people out, it’s going to happen, and I hate that. That is why we have some many people in the federal government busting their butts to help prevent those situations, and they get it right nearly every single time, but that’s not the cases you every hear about.”
His final position as a special agent was with the General Services Administration for seven years, and one case he worked on was reported on by a plethora of news service across the world.
“And, that time, the case actually went all the way up to Congress, and it was one of the few times when Congress, on both sides of the aisle, did it right,” Mumper insisted. “They were really on the ball because there were a bunch of federal employees who went on a conference and had a budget for that trip of $250,000.
“By the time that group was finished spending, they had spent over $825,000 of taxpayer money,” he said. “Filet mignon, bacon-wrapped shrimp, the whole nine yards and all very first class. They really went over the top, and it hit all the newspapers and all the networks, and Congress had to do what they had to do.”
His on-duty days, though, come to an end on Sept. 30t because, according to Mumper, the vast majority of federal agents retire at the age of 57, and that’s the plateau he reached on the ninth day of the month. His workload, however, during his final sixth months was lighter than ever because of health issues connected to the federal position.
“I’m still getting used to retirement, to be honest, because when you work as a federal agent, the case is always there to work on. Some folks have jobs that they do, and then they go home until the next workday. That’s not the life of a federal agent; I can tell you that,” Mumper explained. “I miss it, and I don’t miss it, but it’s only been a little over a month, so I am sure that I will get used to relaxing at some point.
“It takes its toll; it really does, but it’s time to make myself a priority,” he admitted. “Back in March, I had a stroke, and the doctors told me it was caused by stress. I’ve fully recovered because I got to the hospital soon enough and was given the magic TPA drug, but it got my attention; I can tell you that.”
His father was a steelworker for 44 years, his mother was employed by Ohio County Schools, and the couple also parented three daughters, two of whom still live in the Mountain State’s Northern Panhandle. Mumper did make his way home every few years while living in Sacramento, but now that his three children are college graduates and living their own lives, he’s coming home.
So, no, he will not miss the warmer, the Pacific Ocean, or the traffic, wild fires, and earthquakes.
“Why have I decided to move back to where I grew up? That’s an easy answer. The people,” Mumper insisted/ “One of the things that drove me back to Wheeling following my retirement was the fact that people give a damn. I know when my friend Don Atkinson was on council, he worked his butt off for the people he represented. I can’t say it loud enough that the folks in the Upper Ohio Valley make this place a gem in my mind. I grew up here, and I know that I will be very happy here, and that’s why I have already purchased my home in Clearview.
“My kids are doing great, and they have their lives, and I was married for 27 years but in the end that didn’t work out, so it’s time for me to move forward with my life, and I plan to do that right here,” he continued. “It’s the culture here that I love, and I can’t wait to be with my family who stayed here so I can start making new memories with wonderful people.”
(Photos provided by Scott Mumper)