Former Mingo County Circuit Judge Elliot E. “Spike” Maynard passed away Thursday after battling a lingering illness.
In 1996, the Williamson native was elected as a Democrat to a 12-year term on the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia after serving as a judge of West Virginia’s 30th Judicial Circuit for more than 16 years.
Maynard served in the U.S. Air Force from 1961 to 1966. He received his Bachelor of Science degree from Florida Southern College in 1967.
Maynard returned home and served as the managing director of the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce from 1968 to 1970.
Maynard went on to attend the West Virginia University College of Law and received his law degree in 1974.
Maynard was in private practice from 1974 until 1981, and also served as the prosecuting attorney for Mingo County from 1976 to 1981.
Maynard was appointed a judge of the 30th Judicial Circuit in 1981. He was elected in 1981 and subsequently re-elected. He served on the court until 1997.
In 1996, he was elected to a 12-year term as a justice of the Supreme Court of Appeals of West Virginia. Maynard served as an associate justice until 2000, when he became chief justice. He served in the rotating role of chief justice again in 2004 and 2008.
Maynard’s term expired in 2009. He ran for re-election and initially was the strong favorite. However, in the May 13, 2008, primary election for two seats on the court, Maynard was defeated, coming in third behind former Supreme Court Justice Margaret Workman and Huntington trial lawyer Menis E. Ketchum.
In 2010, Maynard switched parties and won the Republican nomination to challenge longtime Democratic U.S. Rep. Nick Rahall in West Virginia’s 3rd Congressional District. Maynard was defeated in his election bid in the second-closest election in Rahall’s political history.
Current Supreme Court justices remembered Maynard for his wit, kindness, wisdom and love for art, opera and theater.
“When you sit next to someone every day, you learn a lot about them,” Justice Margaret Workman said. “Spike Maynard was a very kind person and he cared about people. As a judge, he knew when to be tough and when to be compassionate.”
West Virginia Republican Party Chairman Conrad Lucas called Maynard “a true West Virginian, a brilliant legal mind and a champion of the conservative cause. As a proud son of Mingo County, Spike embodied the role of a classic Southern gentleman. Spike will go down in history as one of the most colorful and charming individuals ever to enter public life in the Mountain State.”
Maynard’s funeral will be at 2:30 p.m. Sunday at First Baptist Church of Belfry in Goody, Ky. Visitation will be held Saturday night at Weaver Mortuary in Williamson.
Kyle Lovern is sports editor of the Daily News. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or at 304-235-4242, ext. 33, or on Twitter @KyleLovern.