MORGANTOWN - I was saddened when receiving word that Edgar O. "Eddie" Barrett III had died
at the age of 81 in Huntington.
He excelled as West Virginia University Athletic Publicity Director from 1951-67, except for two years in the U.S. Air Force.
A native of Fairmont, Barrett was still a WVU student when Athletic Director Roy M. "Legs" Hawley hired him at the age of 20. But he did a terrific one-man job beating the drums during the Mountaineers early Golden Era in football and basketball.
Steve Douglas, longtime CEO of the WVU Alumni Association, told me that Eddie died on Friday while dining out with wife Betty and their five children and 11 grandchildren.
The Barrett's made their home in Huntington but also spent the winters in Naples, Fla.
After serving 16 years as chief publicist - with hardly any assistance or help - he resigned July 1, 1967, to become athletic director at Marshall. Then just 36, he was the youngest A.D. at a major college in the nation.
Following a short stint with Marshall, Barrett became associated with the Pepsi Cola Bottling Co. of Huntington. Eventually he sold insurance for several of
the nation's firms.
While at WVU, Eddie was highly instrumental in publicizing many of the institutions all-time greatest athletes.
Those in basketball include the legendary Jerry West and Hot Rod Hundley, Rod Thorn, Ron "Fritz" Williams, Mark Workman, and Lloyd Sharrar.
Fred Schaus, an All-America Mountaineer player himself, became WVU's winningest basketball coach from 1955-60.
Those all-time greats in football of that period included Sam Huff, Bruce Bosley, Fred Wyant, Chuck Howley, Tommy Allman, Bob Moss and others.
Most of these standouts already are in the WVU Sports Hall of Fame.
Barrett became the first WVU publicist to be inducted into that shrine. He's a member of the 2010 class.
Eddie, who wrote stories for The Fairmont Times long before he was old enough to vote, helped bring WVU into the modern age of sports information.
That was by laying the foundation for records, statistics, and media brochures.
A $160,000 three-level press box at Old Mountaineer Field was built in 1963 during Barrett's tenure.
He served on the NCAA Public Relations Committee from 1963-67.
Eddie and Betty, a Milwaukee Native, have been very close to WVU for many years during retirement. They have been among the school's biggest
Both were honored by WVU in 2009 as the Most Loyal West Virginians. The WVU Foundation honored them with the 2007 Philanthropy Award.
Eddie received the WVU Alumni Association award for promoting the spirit and tradition of West Virginia.
He was a member of Mountain Honorary, Beta Theta Pi fraternity, and the Jerry West Society. He served as president of the 2005 Emeritus Club.