KEYSER - A plaque bearing the likeness and biography of Lt. Col. Jeffrey Fanto (USAF-Ret.) will soon be among the almost 80 members of the Legion of Honor who are recognized in the front hall of Keyser High School.

By Liz Beavers
lbeavers@newstribune.info
Tribune Managing Editor
KEYSER - A plaque bearing the likeness and biography of Lt. Col. Jeffrey Fanto (USAF-Ret.) will soon be among the almost 80 members of the Legion of Honor who are recognized in the front hall of Keyser High School.
Fanto, of Niceville, Florida, was the 2019 inductee into the Legion of Honor, and was the guest of honor Friday at the banquet hosted by the J. Edward Kelley Society.
The Legion of Honor recognizes graduates of Keyser High School who have gone on to distinguish themselves in their chosen careers.
Fanto, fully qualified in five different Air Force specialties and holder of multiple leadership positions in the Air Force, is now a civilian employee of the USAF as the chief of the Portfolio Optimization Branch, Engineering Division, 96th Civil Engineer Group at Eglin Air Force Base, Florida.
Fanto was introduced by long-time friend Gary Parish of Keyser, who recalled that the two of them had met on the “back playground” at the old Keyser High School and soon bonded over their mutual interest in playing guitar.
After briefly outlining Fanto’s list of career accomplishments, Parish said the one thing that kept running through his mind was “small town guy does well.”
In accepting the honor, Fanto said he was “not sure a guy from South Main Street was worthy” of such recognition.
Calling J. Edward Kelley a “man who gave the last full measure of devotion” for his country, Fanto told the crowd at the dinner that, “to receive an honor given in his name means so much to me.”
He thanked his family for their support over the years, calling his various positions in the military “a team sport” that included the vital component of support from his family.
He spoke fondly of Keyser High School and the community of Keyser, noting that they “helped shape me into who I am today.”
He spoke of numerous role models at KHS, including principals John Shelton and James Goldsworthy, who “set the standard for leadership,” as well as teachers John Haines, Roberta Moreland, Debbie Seldomridge, and Jim McLucas.
He also recalled the influence of Harry Light and David Peters, who both pastored Grace United Methodist Church, where Fanto grew up, and Dick Davis, who was the long-time choir director there.
“The foundation, however, was set by my mom and dad,” he said. “I value their opinion and I still seek it out.”
Among his pieces of advice for students today was, “Never stop learning … it will serve you well. I learn from my employees every day,” he said.
Emcee for the program was Lucas Taylor, president of the J. Edward Kelley Society.