The third floor of the Logan County Courthouse was packed Thursday morning with court employees, local attorneys, veterans, Kiwanians, Rotarians, Lions club members, friends and family who gathered together to honor attorney Ed Eiland, who celebrated his 63rd anniversary as a lawyer on Wednesday. Then, yesterday, Eiland was named a hometown hero. The celebration will be aired next weekend on WSAZ TV3.
“It was 63 years ago yesterday when he started practicing law,” Judge Eric O’Briant told local attorney Mark Hobbs, who was there to present Eiland with an award for his decades of dedication and service in the legal community. “It was November 18, 1948 when his legal career began and he is still going strong,” Judge O’Briant added. WVOW General Manager Speedy Bevins said much had changed in Logan over the past 63 years, but Eiland remained a fixture.
WSAZ Meteorologist Tony Cavalier arrived with Eiland in tow and announced that Channel 3 was proud to name Eiland the Thanksgiving week Hometown Hero.
“If you all think I am retiring, you had best disabuse yourself of that notion because (longtime assistant) Nancy (Kirkendoll) won’t let me quit,” the normally low-key Eiland quipped. “Lord, I am here because you let me be here. I have no complaints.”
The morning was full of honors for Eiland who has been a well-respected attorney in Logan for more than six decades, a stalwart and active member of the Kiwanis Club of Logan, a volunteer for the Salvation Army, a volunteer musician for The Aracoma Story Inc. musical productions and a supporter of the Logan Wildcats athletics, as well as a member of the WVU Alumni Marching Band.
Eiland has also served more than one term as the city attorney for Logan, and one of the people who honored him was current Logan City Councilman Tom Fink, who recalled meeting Eiland when Fink was a rookie cop in the early 1960s.
“I have the utmost respect for Mr. Eiland because he understood the pressures we had, and he understood that the world was changing and he always gave me good legal advice and helped me greatly in my duties as a policeman,” Fink said.
Eiland saw many old friends in the audience, including those from his school days in the 1930s, longtime friends Eddie Stevens and Buddy Ferrell.
Tammy Stollings, a representative from West Virginia Governor Joe Manchin, was on hand to present a proclamation declaring Eiland a Distinguished Mountaineer for his decades of service to the community.
Stollings discussed the modest Eiland’s background, including his military service and volunteer work as a Kiwanian and a Boy Scouts of America troop leader.
Raamie Barker with Senate President Earl Ray Tomblin’s office presented Eiland with a proclamation from Senate President Tomblin declaring Eiland a Dedicated West Virginian and Barker shared some personal remembrances of Eiland.
“I first met you when I was a young man campaigning for John Kennedy in 1960 and Bobby Kennedy in 1968,” Barker said, remembering that Eiland ran for judge that year. When Kennedy was brought to town by one faction of Democrats, Eiland told his peers in that group that their opponents also should be invited to appear on stage with the presidential candidate.
“That showed me we had picked the right man for the job in Ed Eiland,” Barker noted, adding that the opposing candidate won anyway.
“The next day, I went out and played golf,” Eiland quipped.
Barker also pointed out that the soft-spoken and mild-mannered attorney was a true war hero who participated in several beach landings in WWII and was wounded when he was shot in the chest. Marine Corps Lt. Eiland field dressed his own wound and led his men into battle. Barker said Eiland was known for his modesty, his integrity and his honesty as well as his willingness to volunteer for a good cause.
“This is a great man,” Barker said.
Fink called Eiland a national hero, an excellent counselor and dedicated musician and volunteer and said he was proud to announce that the City of Logan had declared Nov. 19 as Ed Eiland Day in his honor.
Don Wandling said the West Virginia State Bar Association wished to salute Eiland on behalf of his more than 60 years of practicing law at a high level of professionalism in his community and that the bar wished to commend his integrity and competency.
“All of us know how much you love Logan and what you do for your community,” Wandling said.
Local attorney Mark Hobbs presented Eiland with two plaques from the Logan County Bar Association for his years of service and dedication to the people of Logan and said he had the highest respect for Eiland, noting that anybody familiar with Eiland had the same great respect for him.
Eiland said he was not sure that any of the attorneys who were practicing law when he got sworn in as an attorney were still practicing. Eiland went over a list of judges and attorneys he had practiced with noting that they and their contemporaries had “been friends in keeping me here.”
He also thanked his many secretaries over the years and his current secretary, Nancy Kirkendoll, noting that a good secretary was the secret to success for any attorney.
“I have been blessed with many of them,” Eiland admitted, chiding Nancy for not letting him know about Thursday’s events ahead of time.
Kirkendoll spoke about knowing Eiland for many years when her former employer passed away and Eiland hired her to be his secretary.
“He’s a wonderful man,” she said.
Debrina Williams and Jim Frye from the Logan County Chamber of Commerce presented Eiland with a gift bag and a plaque to celebrate him being named hometown hero and unveiled plans for a billboard to be erected honoring Eiland for his dedication to his community.
“We should all strive to be the type of Logan Countian Ed Eiland is,” Frye said.
Diana O’Briant of the Aracoma Story Inc. said Eiland is the dream of every music director TAS ever had and listed his abilities as a musician and presented him with honors for his 30 years of volunteering with the summer plays. Eiland recalled “The Sound of Music” as his first TAS experience many years ago. Frye said a seat in the Liz Spurlock Amphitheatre will commemorate Eiland’s years with TAS.
“This is my first time of knowingly being on television,” Eiland said, noting his brother Ted used to work for WSAZ and his brother-in-law worked for WCHS. “I am sorry I don’t have the television presence they have.”
Members of the Norman R. Miller Chapter 308 of the Vietnam Veterans of America honored Eiland next. Andy Clark praised Eiland for his service to his country and Troy Varney presented him with a Marine Corps hat.
“Once a Marine, always a Marine,” Varney said. “Simper Fi.”
Eiland said he was just a battalion communication officer, and “not a John Wayne type,” adding that his 40 months in the Marine Corps in World War II were memorable and that he had done what he thought was right.
Eiland, who has long been a major supporter of the Logan Wildcats, was also honored by the LHS basketball team as Chad Akers and team mambers presented him with a signed basketball.
“You know he’s gonna be there,” Akers said, noting Eiland’s presence and support at every LHS game.
Eiland’s childhood friend Eddie Stevens joined him and the two recalled Logan High sports in 1937.
Stevens told Tony Cavalier that Ed Eiland “is an outstanding person, a good attorney and is an honest person and one of the finest people I have ever known. There will never be another like him,” Stevens said.
Attorney Brian Abraham said that when he passed the bar exam 14 years ago he was interviewed by Eiland who was on the bar’s character exam committee and noted that no better person could have been chosen for that role. Abraham said he had no idea back then that Eiland was a war hero as Eiland never bragged about himself.
“He’s a humble man,” Abraham said, adding that Eiland received both the Silver Star and the Purple Heart for his bravery and injury in combat.
Wesley Nugent of the WVU Marching Band praised Eiland for his support of the WVU band and his long years as a member of the Alumni Band and presented him with some WVU clothing and items, saying he was “our most senior alumnus and an inspiration.”
Former law partner John Bennett recalled being interviewed by Eiland 30 years ago and being impressed with what a nice man Eiland was and recalled that in their many years of law practice together how Eiland’s main concern was “that we do the right thing.” Bennett noted that Eiland was also a charitable man who rang the bells for the Salvation Army every winter at Christmas time and was known to present friends with Christmas presents, despite the fact he is actually Jewish. Bennett noted that when he decided to run for office he asked Eiland, who not only encouraged him, but agreed to be his campaign manager.
“He was always my mentor, but most of all my friend,” Bennett said.
Eiland’s friends Darren Akers and Howard MacDonald in the Kiwanis Club of Logan praised him for his 50 plus years of service as a Kiwanian and community volunteer.
“We are proud to have you as an active member for 58 years,” MacDonald said. Akers said that when his young daughter, MacKenzie, first met Eiland, she was impressed at how polite and nice he was.
“I told her that if she can be as honest as he is nice, I would be a happy father,” Akers quipped.
Eiland explained that Kiwanis was important to him as his father Rudy was a charter member of the Kiwanis Club of Logan in 1944.
“I am only carrying on as he did,” Eiland said.