WEEasked some simple questions — and your neighbors, friends, coworkers, acquaintances, even some strangers, answered. Get to know them a little bit better with our fun series, “WEEasked.”
Barbara LaRue considers herself a “proud West Virginian,” so it is fitting that she was born on West Virginia Day — June 20, 1953, in Ohio County. From early on, Barb wanted to become a registered nurse. After graduating from Triadelphia High School in 1971, she attended the Ohio Valley General Hospital School of Nursing (class of ’74) and Wheeling Jesuit (class of ’99). Her interest in geriatrics led her to become certified in gerontology, and she spent most of her 41 years of nursing in the field. She worked as a staff nurse, team leader, charge nurse, head nurse, house supervisor, assistant director of nursing and director of nursing throughout her career. She retired in 2015 from her position on a rehab unit.
Barb has been married to Walter “Fuzz” LaRue since June 1975. They have two sons, Jason and Justin, two “great” daughters-in-law, Adrien and Nicole, and three granddaughters, whom she babysits when their parents need her.
She enjoys the outdoors, reading, traveling, cooking, baking, entertaining, connecting with friends and family, going out to dinner, a movie or a show, and belonging to women’s organizations.
Upon retirement, she has focused on politics and issues affecting the country’s democracy. “I have also focused on helping people by belonging to women’s groups. I have given my time to community activities and needs. So, I am quite busy and involved,” she said.
Here’s what Barb answered when WEEasked:
Tell us something that would surprise Weelunk readers about you?
I support the Wheeling Heritage and their goal of perspective entrepreneurs in business. By attending the Show of Hands and providing support for the winner of each event, this project is so important to grow Wheeling! I applaud all who try for this award and encourage others to support this important project and to help other young people start businesses in Wheeling.
With the Show of Hands, I attend and am also one of the community supporters financially. It is also a non-partisan way to participate in the community. It is extremely important to me to support new businesses in hopes that Wheeling grows. We need all the help we can to grow businesses whether young people or older.
If you could cultivate a new skill, what would that be?
That new skill would be gardening. I have never had a green thumb. I would love to know more about gardening and growing beautiful flowers. I did make an unusual attempt last summer. My husband gave me giant sunflower seeds to plant. I planted all 51 seeds, watered them, transplanted them and transplanted them to the outside. I am happy to say 15 of them grew to be 6- to 7-feet tall. Now, that was an accomplishment for me!
What is the most important thing you’ve accomplished either in your career or outside of your career over the years?
The most important thing I have accomplished in my career was going back to school to obtain my BSN in nursing and becoming certified in gerontology. Also, I worked my way to the top of my career ladder goals. To obtain my degree, I had to start all over. Being a diploma graduate, the colleges gave no credit. I was able, in addition to taking classes, to do nursing challenges and C.L.E.P. exams for some courses. The science classes and challenges were projects taken home and were very lengthy to complete. I did all of this while raising two sons, attending their functions and working as an RN. My goal was to have this all done by the age of 45.
Subscribe to Weelunk
Outside of my career and school, my most important accomplishment was raising my two children, being a wife and having three granddaughters. It is important to have a purpose in life. Now that I am retired, belonging to organizations such as the OCDWC and WVFDW has certainly kept me busy. It is important to become educated on issues and fight for a better world for my children and grandchildren.
As if that is not enough, I have also become involved in community activities and needs.
I noticed that you recently were named Outstanding Democrat in West Virginia. What did that honor mean to you? What led to that honor?
I was humbled to receive this award as an Outstanding Democrat in Charleston, West Virginia, at the Roosevelt Kennedy dinner held in November. The award was given for hard work in the democratic party. This is a prestigious award to win, and I was nominated by Ohio County to be the recipient of this award as an outstanding democrat in West Virginia. But I must say, that there are many deserving democrats for this honor.
For several years, I have been active in the Ohio County Democratic Women’s Club and the West Virginia Federation of Democratic Women. I have served several terms of both vice president and president of the OCDWC. I have served as the membership chair for the WVFDW for several years. During the election years of 2016 and 2018, I helped to run the democratic headquarters and plan to do the same in 2020. I sit on the Ohio County Democrat Executive Committee as an elected member. I work at the polls on election day. I also have been active in a nonpartisan way to register voters. I have worked behind the scene to write postcards, make phone calls and place signs for candidates.
Why is volunteering for a cause and public service important to you and to the community?
Volunteering for a cause and public service is important to me because a person needs to continue to grow and become a responsible member of a family, an organization, a community, and a society. We all have something to offer and what a stagnant world it would be if people did not offer their ideas and skills to others. It is the right thing to do as a responsible person.
The other organizations I belong to are Soroptimist International of Wheeling, Wheeling Woman’s Club and a past member of OVMC OPALS. I am still a member of OVGH School of Nursing Alumni and OVMC Quarter of a Century Club. Through Woman’s Club of Wheeling and Soroptimist International of Wheeling, I have enjoyed projects such as working with children of Laughlin Chapel proving support and donations for Wheeling YWCA, YSS and other organizations. One of my favorite projects is helping with scholarships for deserving female heads of households who are needing assistance to better their lives through education.
What is your favorite night out on the town?
My favorite night out on the town is a nice dinner, glass of wine, and a Broadway play or movie. I also enjoy venues at the waterfront.
What is your wish for Wheeling?
My wish for Wheeling is that our city continues to prosper and grow. We need new business and continued renovation and innovation. I wish for younger people to be able to live here with good jobs with living wages and benefits. They need to be able to afford to raise their families. My wish is for the streets of Wheeling to be as busy as they were when I grew up.