Whitt, a native of Matewan and a lifelong Mingo County resident, served one and a half terms as a member of the House of Delegates before being appointed the first and only Mingo County Redevelopment Authority Executive Director.
Whitt, 59, died Thursday, November 24, 2011, at his home in the loving care of his family.
It was Whitt's vision to use post-mine land for growth and development in southern West Virginia and he was instrumental in getting the new Mingo Central High School built on a reclaimed mountaintop mining site. Whitt was also working on bringing to Mingo County the coal-to-gas plant that is scheduled to be built at Ben Creek and he was working to get an airport built in the mountains above Varney Hollow along U.S. Route 52 at Varney. Two of his last major public appearances was at the opening of Mingo Central earlier this year and at the ground-breaking on the coal-to-gas plant with U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin.
Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin issued a statement on Whitt's passing on Friday.
"Mike Whitt was an exceptional leader with an incredible passion for Mingo County as well as the entire state," Gov. Tomblin said. "From his time and service in the Legislature to his leadership of the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority, the lasting impact of Mike's work can be seen throughout our state, especially southern West Virginia.
"Joanne and I have lost a great friend and we extend our sincere condolences and deepest sympathies to Mike's wife, Regina and his entire family. He will truly be missed and will long be remembered for his dedicated service."
A son of the late John Whitt Jr. and Mary Jane Hatfield Whitt, Mike Whitt was born on June 25, 1952, at Williamson.
He was an alumnus of Matewan High School and of Marshall University, having graduated with a Master's degree in Education Administration.
Whitt had served as the Executive Director of the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority since January of 1990.
He also taught school in Mingo County for five years, worked in the mining industry for eleven years, served as West Virginia House of Delegates member from 1987-1989 and served as president of the Tug Valley Football officials Board, where he officiated high school basketball, football and softball for 26 years.
Whitt was a member of the West Virginia Economic Development Council, a member of the Tug Valley Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Williamson Memorial Hospital Board of trustees and was one of three founders of the Hatfield McCoy Trail System.
He also served on the State Recreational Trails Advisory Board, the Corridor G Authority Site Selection Committee and the Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College Williamson Campus Advisory Committee.
Whitt was involved in Matewan High School athletics until the school's closing. He was the public address announcer for the Tigers basketball team for several years after retiring from officiating.
Whitt attended the Regional Church of God of Delbarton.
He is survived by his wife, Regina Edwards Whitt of Matewan; son, Michael John Whitt of Matewan; daughters, Jennifer (Jerod) McComas of Richmond, Va., MaryAnn (Brad) Preece of Scott Depot and Katrina (Ikie) Estepp of Barboursville; one granddaughter, Brieann Preece; brothers, Mark Whitt and Pierce Whitt; and a sister, Debbie Justice. Whitt is also survived by two special nephews Timmy and J.R. Butcher.
Honoring services will be conducted on Monday, November 28, at 1 p.m., at the Regional Church of God of Delbarton with Rev. Mitchell Bias and Pastor David Robinette officiating. Burial will then follow in the Mountain View Memory Gardens at Maher with family and friends serving as pallbearers.
The family will begin receiving friends for an evening of fellowship and remembrance on today beginning at 6 p.m. at the church.
In lieu of flowers the family has elected to establish a scholarship fund in the memory of Mike Whitt. The scholarship will go to a Mingo County Central High School Senior. Memorial donations may be made at the Mike Whitt Memorial Scholarship fund at any Bank of Mingo.