In many families, good genes are passed down through generations like great-granddad’s pocket watch. If you’re lucky, they might bestow you with brains, beauty or athletic prowess. If you’re especially blessed, they may just compel you to go above and beyond to help others and to put service before self.
That is precisely the case when it comes to two of this year’s Wheeling Hall of Fame inductees. Dr. William C. Mercer and Joan Corson Stamp will be joining their family members in the Hall of Fame when the 2023 induction ceremony takes place on Saturday, June 10 at Wesbanco Arena.
Hall of Fame History and Selection
The Wheeling Hall of Fame was established by city council in 1977 and is currently comprised of 155 individuals who have made significant contributions to the Friendly City in the areas of Business, Industry & Professions; Education & Religion; Music & Fine Arts; Public Service; Philanthropy; and Sports & Athletics. The current Hall of Fame Board is chaired by Robert DeFrancis and vice-chaired by Jeanne Finstein. Other board members include Philip Stahl, Jerry Sklavounakis, F. Wayne Barte, Laura Carroll, Dick Coury, Rev. Darrell Cummings, George Frazier, Jay Frey, David Javersak, Charles J. Kaiser, Kim McCluskey, Kelly Rine, Georgette Stock, Dianna Vargo, Chris Villamagna and Rev. Bob Willits.
In addition to Mercer and Stamp, nine other Wheeling residents will join the Hall of Fame class of 2023. They are Edward Bates Franzheim, Mary Ann Hess, Rev. James A. O’Brien, S. J., Robert J. Otten, Alfred Paull, Edward M. “Ned” Steckel, Jr., Beatrice Ann Thomas, Edith Lake Wilkinson, and Chickie Williams. Williams, who passed away in 2007, joins her late husband Doc Williams, who was inducted in 1984. Both Doc and Chickie Williams were honored for their outstanding contributions to Music & Fine Arts.
Hall of Fame Board Vice-Chair Finstein tells Weelunk that the Board is charged with making the selections of honorees. Inductions take place every other year, and at most, two honorees in each of the six categories are chosen.
Class of 2023 Inductees Dr. William C. Mercer and Joan Corson Stamp
Dr. William C. Mercer joins his father J. Loran Mercer (Education & Religion, 2002), a much-loved Warwood High School music educator and band director who led the band to national recognition; and his brother Dr. Donald Mercer (Business, Industry & Professions, 2019), a chief biochemist and medical professor who developed a reliable blood test called the CK-MB test to detect heart attacks. This test remained the gold standard for decades and is still used today.
According to the Hall of Fame website, Dr. William C. Mercer is Board-certified in family medicine and geriatrics. He served hospitals in the Wheeling area and was medical director of the Wheeling-Ohio County Health Department for 22 years. In 1996, Pittsburgh Magazine named him a top doctor in the region. He was cited as West Virginia’s Family Physician of the Year in 2008. In 2016, Mercer earned the Youth Services System’s Good Samaritan of the Year award. His commitment to the mental and physical health of those outside his private practice resulted in his nationally-recognized anti-smoking campaign aimed at area youth. He is known for his massive collection of Snoopy memorabilia which is now showcased at the Kruger Street Toy & Train Museum. He was the Grand Marshal of the 2018 Wheeling Christmas parade and also helped to wrangle a giant Snoopy balloon in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade in 2019.
“I was fortunate to have been brought up in a very loving family. My parents were both role models for me,” shares Mercer. “As I grew up, I always heard how wonderful my father was from former students and others. As I got older, I came to realize what they meant. He made such an impression on almost anyone he came in contact with. He treated everyone as special.”
Regarding his older brother, Mercer says, “We were 15 years apart but we had a very special relationship. He was athletic and super smart and could play the clarinet. I admired him for his brilliance. When I was at West Liberty, he had just developed the CK-MB test. That was exciting.” Mercer recalls working with his brother on that test and credits the experience as one that piqued his interest in medicine. The brothers worked together again years later when the younger Mercer was Health Officer on a project which studied the effects of pharmaceuticals in the Ohio River. Mercer also mentions his late mother as the major reason he entered the medical field. “Not to forget my mother, who isn’t in the Hall of Fame but had an influence on all of us. She was a Navy nurse and a head nurse at OVMC. That is where I got my true interest in medicine. I still use what she taught me in my nursing practice.”
Joan Corson Stamp joins her husband Judge Frederick P. Stamp, Jr. (Public Service, 2017), well-known legislator and Federal judge; and her Stifel family connections Johann Ludwig Stifel (Business, Industry & Professions, 1984) who founded the Stifel calico works; Mary E. “Fritzi” Stifel Quarrier (Sports & Athletics, 1980), who won ten West Virginia State Women’s Amateur Golf championships and was also an accomplished violinist and original member of the Wheeling Symphony; George E. Stifel (Philanthropy 1980), who established the Stifel Award endowment for outstanding Ohio County students; Henry Stifel Schrader (Philanthropy, 1988), whose bequest to Oglebay Institute allowed Oglebay Park to build the Schrader Environmental Education Center; and Elizabeth Stifel Kline (Philanthropy, 2011), public servant who was active in many local community service groups and the recipient of the 2000 NAACP Community Service Award.
Joan Stamp’s Hall of Fame biography states that she is a community leader who is also a thoughtful benefactor of the arts, music, public parks and educational institutions in Wheeling, the state of West Virginia, and the Mid-Atlantic region. Stamp’s guidance and financial support have enriched the lives of patrons of Oglebay Park, Oglebay Institute, Wheeling Symphony Society, Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center, WVU Rosenbaum Family House, West Virginia University, WVU Foundation, the WVU Alumni Center, National Symphony Orchestra, and The Community Foundation for the Ohio Valley. She is the fourth member of the extended Stifel family to enhance the quality of life for Wheeling residents as a philanthropist.
Stamp is proud of those family connections in the Hall of Fame. “I am honored to be a recipient of this award, joining my relatives who have been so honored. As my grandfather Arthur Stifel used to say, ‘When your community supports you, it’s important to give back.’ I am proud to be a part of a family that has been community-minded.”
As Board Chair DeFrancis states, “Greatness often runs in families, and that has been recognized by the Wheeling Hall of Fame.” Vice-Chair Finstein adds, “Recognizing these outstanding individuals in the Wheeling Hall of Fame is the least we can do to honor their contributions to a greater Wheeling and beyond.”
Other Multiple-Member Families
Finstein shares that there are also a number of other families not mentioned previously here who have multiple members in the Hall of Fame. They include:
Herschel C. Ogden and Ogden Nutting (Business, Industry & Professions, 1982 and 2013) and Snookie Nutting (Public Service, 2017)
Rt. Rev. E.L. Strider, D.D. and Dr. Robert E.L. Strider, II (Education & Religion, 1982)
Molly O’Brien and Tim O’Brien (Music & Fine Arts, 2017 and 2006)
Harry Sands and Helen Turner Sands (Philanthropy, 2017)
Albert F. Schenk, III and Kathleen Hogan Schenk (Philanthropy, 2019) and Otto Schenk (Philanthropy, 1984)
Sue Seibert Farnsworth and George H. Seibert, Jr. (Public Service, 2019 and 1982)
Alexander Glass (Business, Industry & Professions, 1980) and Eleanor Glass Caldwell (Music & Fine Arts, 1982)
The Wheeling Hall of Fame induction ceremony dinner begins at 6 p.m. on June 10 and is open to the public. Tickets are $40 each and may be purchased here or by calling or visiting the Wesbanco Arena box office weekdays between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. at 304-233-7000.
To learn more about this year’s Wheeling Hall of Fame inductees, take our latest quiz “How Much Do You Know About These Noteworthy Wheelingites?”
• Ellen Brafford McCroskey is a lifelong resident of Wheeling and a proud graduate of Wheeling Park High School, where she discovered her love of writing as a member of the yearbook staff. She earned her bachelor’s degree in Human Resources Management at the former Wheeling Jesuit College. By day, she utilizes that degree at the international law firm where she is employed. After work, you can find her relaxing with family, friends, and her clowder of cats.