A lifetime legacy of learning leads to success

By The West Virginia Record | May 22, 2008

Janelle Williams and Charles Price. (Photo courtesy of WVU)

MORGANTOWN -- For Charles L. Price, starting and completing an education was a value instilled in him at an early age.

His father, Charles E. Price, an attorney, was a strong proponent of education, and he passed those values on to his children and grandchildren.

"My father was a firm believer in the power of education," says Price, a native of Charleston. "He grew up in Fairmont during a difficult time in America. He had the vision to create a better life for himself and his family through education. Following World War II, Charles Sr. attended the WVU College of Law and graduated in 1949, becoming the first black graduate of the college. He believed that you were never done learning, and he passed that passion on to other members of his family and later, along with my mother, to his children."

Following Charles Sr.'s graduation from WVU, his mother, Delia Price, a teacher, returned to school and earned a master's degree in education from WVU. She was in her mid-50s when she earned that degree. The same principles she had instilled in her children inspired her to continue her own education.

When it came time for the younger Charles to continue his education, his father encouraged him to go to a school that would provide opportunity. He chose WVU.

"I grew up in Charleston, so we always supported WVU from afar," says Price. "When I started thinking about college, my dad introduced me to Horace and Geraldine Belmear and they ended up having a great influence on my life. From that moment on, I knew WVU was the right place for me."

Price was proud to carry on the family tradition and took advantage of the opportunities available.

"The University reinforced and taught me that I could learn ... that I could apply myself," he explains. "I've used that in many areas of my life. I'm fortunate to have a strong support group of friends who came to WVU and have become successful. When you hang around these people, you realize that you too can accomplish great things."

As a student, Price also became involved in student organizations that enabled him to develop a strong network of friends. He was a member of the Pre-Bankers organization at the College of Business and Economics and of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity, an organization in which he remains actively involved.

Price also acknowledges faculty who helped him to achieve his goals at WVU, including Frank Riley. "He was very passionate about what I thought was a very boring subject (international and national matters)," he says. "Dr. Riley worked with me when I was struggling with certain concepts. I will never forget him."

Price graduated in 1985 and is now a successful businessman. As an investment professional for Nationwide Insurance in Columbus, Ohio, he uses the education he received at WVU to represent his firm's investment products to investment firms across America.

"The University took an interest in me, and I took an interest in the University," says Price. "So in my day-to-day life, I try to apply that same concept to help others work hard, take an interest in their work, and be the best they can be."

He also notes that it is important for alumni to become community leaders.

"I try to be a visionary and take some of the things that I learned at WVU into the world to help others."

The Price family legacy continued when Charles' niece, Janelle Williams, graduated from the College of Business and Economics in 2002. A career development consultant with the Regional Education Service Agency of Kanawha County, Williams has also shown great promise as an aspiring actress and singer in several productions in the Charleston area.

"Our family recognizes the importance of obtaining a solid education to overcome the challenges that the world provides. WVU has helped us bridge that gap. Now, we stand on the shoulders of our previous generations and hope to live up to the standards set for future generations of our family," said Price.

When asked about his fondest memory of WVU, it is only natural that the answer goes back to family and education.

"Graduating and having my family there with me was one of my proudest moments," he says. "I knew how much it meant to my family, particularly my parents, to continue my education, so to have all of them there ... that moment for me was truly special."

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