KEYSER - The J. Edward Kelley Society capped off the annual Kelley Award festivities Friday evening by inducting two Keyser High graduates into the Legion of Honor.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - The J. Edward Kelley Society capped off the annual Kelley Award festivities Friday evening by inducting two Keyser High graduates into the Legion of Honor.
Established as a means of honoring KHS graduates who went on to distinguish themselves in their chosen careers, the Legion will now include Paul Southerly  Jr. and Col. Jennifer Ravenscroft among its numbers.
Prior to introducing the two honorees, Kelley Society vice president Lucas Taylor told the crowd gathered for the dinner at the Keyser Moose Lodge that West Virginians are known as very humble people, but “we need to allow ourselves to take a little pride in ourselves tonight.
“We need to take great pride in who we are as a state, as a town, and as a high school.”
Robert “Buck” Eagle, member of the Kelley Society, paid tribute to the late Ed Smith, who was one of the key players in the establishment of both the Kelley Society and the Legion of Honor.
“If it was not for Ed Smith, we would not be here tonight,” he said. “I want to say, ‘Thank you, Ed, and I hope we continue to make you proud.’”
Keyser Moose member Howard “Buck” Barrick then introduced his brother, honoree Paul Southerly.
Southerly, a 1970 graduate, admitted that he was not the best student at Keyser High School, despite his mother’s best efforts to get him to work hard.
“I would love to tell you I honored her by excelling at Keyser High School … but I didn’t,” he said.
He did credit several strong role models, however, for helping him through.
Mentioning Jim Broome, he said the coach taught him how to play chess, and with that, taught him “two things about chess that I use in life: 1. You have to look 6-10 moves ahead, and 2. sometimes you’ve got to give up a little piece to get a bigger piece back.”
He also quoted teacher/principal John “Rock” Shelton as telling him: “Just because you’re born poor, you don’t have to stay poor.”
It was a friend who got him to read his first book during their duty in the Army, however, that he credits for changing his life. He began to read more and more, and by the time he was discharged from the Army, he was reading two books a week.
He enrolled in Potomac State College and did very well.
“I got a 4.0 the first semester,” he said.
Southerly kept going in college, and when he graduated with a master’s degree, he had 18 job offers waiting on him.
He went on to work with IBM, where he earned numerous recognitions.
Dennis Ravenscroft introduced his niece, honoree Col. Jennifer Ravenscroft, and noted that the idea of reading books seemed to be a theme between the two inductees.
“I never see Jennifer without a book in her hands,” he said.
“She’s brilliant, smart, and hardworking.”
“I agree that my love of reading has taken me far,” Jennifer said. “Books taught me to dream… and to imagine.”
She, too, admitted that she wasn’t originally the best student, graduating from West Virginia University, she said, “by the skin of my teeth.”
She felt intimidated because, “All I could think about was how difficult it was and I was just a girl from Keyser, West Virginia.”
She found an interest in science, however, and advisors steered her toward osteopathic medicine. She received her degree as a Doctor of Osteopathy from the WVU School of Osteopathic Medicine, and was commissioned as a colonel in the Air Force.
Today, she is working as medical adjudicator for the Formal Physical Evaluation Board.
She gives the credit for her success to her roots in Keyser.
“If it were not for my friends, my family, and my teachers, I would not be here today,” she said.
“I cannot think of any award that would ever mean any more to me than this.”
Clay Sprouse, president of the Kelley Society, served as emcee for the dinner and Logan DelSignore, secretary, gave introductions.