Beginning today, Bridgeport celebrates the life and times of a man who has done more than anyone to keep this progressive community flourishing and growing.
The annual Benedum Festival, which honors Michael Benedum, kicks off at 6:30 p.m. today with an awards banquet at Via Veneto. It will conclude Sunday with activities in the Bridgeport City Park.
Benedum has long been a prominent name in the small city, and for good reason. The list of projects the Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation (named for Benedum's son who died in World War I) has helped to finance in Bridgeport include the city pool, the Methodist church, the Benedum Civic Center, the cemetery and the airport. In fact, much of the city's civic life and infrastructure revolves around projects made feasible by monies from the foundation. Although the foundation is located in Pittsburgh, Benedum issued the directive that 75 percent of the money be used in West Virginia.
Dwight Fowler, a member of the festival committee who knew Benedum personally, says he was a great man who "was always looking to help people." Fowler also says his life was an eventful one, full of impressive achievements.
"This was his home and he never forgot the people who helped him when he was getting started," says Fowler.
Now, the citizens of Bridgeport are doing their best to never forget the "Great Wildcatter" in honoring him annually with a festival that bears his name.
We hope that most citizens in Bridgeport honor this man's legacy by attending some of the numerous events scheduled over the next few days.
Some of the events include a family-oriented Splash Bash at the Bridgeport Civic Center Pool, a fishing derby at Deegan Lake, a 5K-run, a pet parade and a pitch-in golf contest. There also will be entertainment. The festival ends Sunday on Benedum's birthday with a vesper service and live gospel music in the park sponsored by the Bridgeport Ministerial Association.
Remembering and honoring Michael Benedum with a festival is a fitting tribute to a great man who has done so much for Bridgeport, Harrison County and all of West Virginia.
Today's editorial is a reflection of the opinion of the Exponent editorial board, which is comprised of James G. Logue, Kevin S. Courtney, Patrick M. Martin, Matt Harvey, Nora Edinger and J. Cecil Jarvis.