BUCKHANNON — Marvin Carr, age 85, well-known resident around town, has lived in multiple places around Buckhannon throughout his life. “I lived in Webster, Randolph, Lewis, Upshur, Barbour, and married a girl from Harrison,” Carr said.
“I didn’t know a lot about what was going on in Buckhannon in 1938 as a four-year-old, but the changes from ‘74 are quite evident,” Carr stated.
Carr said he does not recall much about the short year he lived on Meade Street, but remembered one story in particular. In 1938, when Carr was four years old, he escaped his home and followed a boy on roller skates to Agnes Howard Hall, where a group of girls were sitting on the porch. His parents did not take long to discover what had happened and were not too happy about his trip to the campus. “I spent that afternoon limited to my bed,” Carr recalled.
Carr lived in Weston from third to ninth grade, then moved to Elkins for high school. Although he did not spend much time in Buckhannon growing up, he does recall a major difference in downtown. “Before the interstate came, the main road went through Main Street and there was always a stack of traffic coming through Buckhannon. It was a busy place,” Carr said. He occasionally visited the town with his family when they came to see the Philips, family friends whom his father worked with.
Carr went to West Virginia University and majored in Management. He went on to Duke Divinity School from 1956 to 1959, then served as the pastor at Riverside Methodist Church in Morgantown for eight years. He was the Coordinator of Corporate Parish and worked with other pastors in the community. While preaching at Riverside, Carr worked on his Master’s degree in History. He then became the pastor at Crim Memorial Church in Philippi, also serving as Coordinator of the Barbour County Corporate Parish.
Carr came to Wesleyan in 1974 as the town and country professor. This position allowed him to teach half time and work with church development the other. He also worked as the Coordinator of the Upshur County Cooperative Parish, where he still serves today. He earned Chair of the Christian Education Department and taught an array of courses at the college. He taught Bible and Methodist History in the Religion department, US and WV history courses in the History department, and Appalachian Studies in the Sociology department. He retired as a professor in 2014.
After the infamous flood of 1985 and over a thousand coal miners were laid off in 1986, Carr recalled that people started to move away from the area. The Crosslines Agency was established to help people in need and created the Parish House in 1992. Carr was one of the few who helped establish the Parish House, along with his wife Sarah, who became the first director of the house.
Carr talked about the differences in Wesleyan as well, and said, “There are fewer people going into the ministry straight out of college.” According to Carr, Wesleyan began as a seminary to train ministers. “Right after World War II, Wesleyan had 400 students, and 100 of those were pre-ministerial students,” he said. Carr added that Wesleyan has since dropped the Christian Education major and went from five professors in the religion department to one, Debra Murphy. Carr did touch on the great job the Center of Community Engagement is doing. He expressed his thanks for the center, all the students, as well as faculty staff Katie Loudin and Jessica Vincent’s work with the Parish House.
Carr said West Virginia as a whole is different, recalling the coal crisis that both brought jobs and took jobs away. The Great Out-Migration from Appalachia started in 1950 and went to 1974. In 1974, the Middle East oil countries cut off oil from the United States. When the country needed coal, gas and oil, Upshur, Monongalia and Barbour counties boomed from having an abundance of the natural resources. According to Carr, the population grew from 18,000 people in 1968 to 24,000 people in 1974, due to this advantage. Now, Upshur is the only county in West Virginia to increase in population since the 1950s, while West Virginia as a whole shrunk in size after these coal out-migrations.