CHARLESTON – West Virginia Supreme Court Justice Brent Benjamin issued the following statement Monday about the death of former Gov. Cecil Underwood:

"Governor Underwood was a great West Virginian who served his State with devotion and dignity in so many ways -– in education, in business, and in government. I remember him as such a kind gentleman and friend. So approachable. A leader who brought divergent sides together on tough issues. Governor Underwood cared about his State and it showed.

"And while he had a large presence in his public life, in his private life he was a man possessed of infinite compassion, decency, and wit. I'm really going to miss him. My prayers are with Governor Underwood's family."

Underwood, a Republican, was West Virginia's youngest governor and oldest governor, elected in 1956 at age 34 and in 1996 at the age of 74. He was 86 when he died Monday morning at Charleston Area Medical Center.

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