About William C. Marland, Governor
William Casey Marland (March 26, 1918 – November 26, 1965), a Democrat, was the 24th Governor of West Virginia from 1953 to 1957. He is best known for his early attempts to tax companies that depleted the state's natural resources, especially coal, as well as overseeing the generally non-violent implementation of school desegregation, during an era when other Southern governors opposed it.
Son of a mining boss, Joseph Wesley and Maude Casey Marland, he was born in Johnston City, Illinois on March 26, 1918. His family moved to the coal town of Glen Rogers in Wyoming County, West Virginia when he was seven. During World War II, he served as a Navy lieutenant in the Pacific theater, completing four tours. He attended the University of Alabama, where he was a star football player, and received a law degree from West Virginia University in 1947. He married Valerie Allen Marland in 1942, and they had three children: William Allen, Susan Lynn, and John Wesley.
Allen was appointed law clerk to Federal Judge Ben Moore, and in August 1948, he was appointed Assistant Attorney General. Upon resignation of former Attorney General Ira J. Partlow December 1, 1949, he was appointed Attorney General. In November 1950, he was elected to the office.
The pressures on Marland may have contributed to the development of alcoholism. Accusations that he drank heavily in office or at inappropriate times during the day have been made by Underwood.
After his second Senate loss, Marland worked as an attorney, eventually relocating to the Chicago area.
In the early 1960s, the ex-governor gave up drinking. But it was not his fate to live out his life as a private individual. A few years after his recovery, he was recognized by a Chicago Sun-Times reporter. Marland indicated that he was working as a taxi driver, and a subsequent article was released to wire services on April 13, 1965. The story received great attention in West Virginia and nationally.
Knowing that the story was about to break and concerned about damage to his family, he called a press conference and spoke candidly about his alcoholism, how he overcame it, and his reasons for driving a taxi: to hold in check a level of ambition that may have contributed to his drinking.
His fortunes dramatically changed for the better. He was soon invited to appear on Jack Paar's television talk show, and was hired to run a West Virginia horse racing concern.
But shortly thereafter, he was struck down by pancreatic cancer. He died of the disease in his Barrington, Illinois home, attended by his wife, children, other relatives, and family friends, on November 26, 1965. His widow followed him in death in 1977.