James H. "Buck" Harless
Pondstone Lecture Title, "Success".
The name Buck Harless is synonymous with philanthropy in West Virginia. From the Student Athlete Program and June Harless Center for Rural Education Research and Development at Marshall University to two professional scholarships at the WVU College of Law, his support of higher education is always forefront on his list of contributions.
Ironically, Buck never had the opportunity to achieve a degree in higher education himself. Instead, he went to work at a young age to help support his family, first working for the Red Jacket Coal Company and later becoming part-owner and manager of a saw mill in Gilbert, West Virginia. Through inventive business skills and wise investments he grew the Gilbert Lumber Company into International Industries, Inc., a multi-million dollar business. However, he never forgot the importance of education or the chings of his maternal aunt and uncle who raised him to always give back to his community.
Harless not only gives financially, but also of his time. He is a member of the West Virginia University System Board of Trustees, past chair of Marshall University Board of Advisors, member of the Marshall University Foundation Board, and a member and past chair of the West Virginia University Foundation Board. He also sits on board of the West Virginia chapter of the Fellowship of Christian Athletes, the advisory board for the Mingo County Redevelopment Authority, and the West Virginia Center for the Arts & Sciences. He is also noted for his contributions to West Virginia's coal mining industry. For which he has been inducted into the West Virginia Coal Hall of Fame, The West Virginia Mining and Reclamation Association, Coal Man of the Year (1976) and The Charleston Gazette West Virginian of the Year (1983).
Buck was grown up at Taplin, Logan County, WV. He marred to June Montgomery for 60 years. Their Children are Judith, daughter, and Larry (deceased), son. Mr. Harless remarried to Hallie Lois Chapman in 2001.