CHARLESTON -– The West Virginia Republican Party has announced a new program paying tribute to former Gov. Cecil H. Underwood.

The Cecil H. Underwood Intern Program will utilize the talents of young Republicans across West Virginia as they work with the State Party each summer to carry out the party's efforts in a variety of activities.

"Gov. Underwood had a special connection with young people, and this program will be one way for his legacy to live on in our party for years to come," state GOP Chairman Doug McKinney said .

Cecilia Baker, the governor's daughter, said, "Our family is honored by this gesture. Our father deeply appreciated the talents and contributions of young people, and this program will help develop and encourage their participation in the political process."

McKinney said the intern program will provide logistical and ground support for the party, grow new ideas and talent with potential future leaders and party staff, and publicly demonstrate an active, growing, and community-oriented party. Interns will develop conservative values and leadership skills, and gain valuable work experience and interaction with party and community leaders.

Underwood, who died in November, first ventured into politics in 1944 at age twenty-two with his election to the House of Delegates. He retained this seat until 1956, serving as House minority floor leader in 1949, 1951, 1953, and 1955. In 1957, he became the youngest governor in the history of the state and the first Republican governor in twenty-four years. In 1996, Underwood became the state's oldest governor, forty years after his first election to the office.

For more information or to contribute to the program, contact the WVGOP at 304-768-0493 or e-mail

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