CHARLESTON, W.Va. -Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin today issued a proclamation ordering all State flags displayed at all State-owned facilities be flown at half-staff from dawn to dusk on Friday, March 22, 2013, in commemoration of the life and service of former W.Va. Sen. Ursula Jae Spears, who died March 16, 2013.
"Sen. Spears represents a record of firsts for women in state government-being the first woman to serve as Senate Majority Whip, the first woman to sit on the Joint Committee on Government and Finance, and the first-and only-woman to have chaired the Senate Finance Committee. She worked hard throughout her career for the good of the citizens of West Virginia and she will long be remembered for her pioneering spirit," Gov. Tomblin said. "Joanne and I extend our deepest condolences to Jae's family."
Spears was first elected to the W.Va. Senate in 1980 after serving three terms in the W.Va. House of Delegates. The former journalist dedicated eighteen years of her life to public service in which she advocated for veterans and the National Guard. Her legislation and dedication brought her a national award from the U.S. Department of Labor and Veterans Affairs, the title of honorary brigadier general in the West Virginia National Guard, and she became the first legislator to receive the State Veterans Council Award.
Spears is survived by her daughter, Katherine Jae "Kitty" Cooper (Jim); her daughter, Marsha Bruce Spears; her son, Lawrence Michael "Larry" Spears (Judy); her son, James Westbrooke "Jim" Spears (Ellen); nine grandchildren, and a great-grandson, as well as her extended family. She was preceded in death by her husband, Col. Lawrence E. Spears; her father, James Marshall; her mother, Sylvia Fox Marshall; and her companion, John Brennan.
Amy Shuler Goodwin