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‘Great Wall Of China’ Celebrated

September 18, 2010
By Linda Comins

Another festive reception was held at Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex in Moundsville Tuesday evening, Sept. 14, this time in celebration of an exhibit of beautiful tableware produced by the Homer Laughlin China Co. of Newell.

The exhibit, dubbed "The Great Wall of China," features a wide array of Homer Laughlin pieces, including, of course, the world-famous colorful Fiesta ware and examples of other china produced by the West Virginia company over the years for commercial clients, political leaders and home consumers. The exhibit originated at the state Culture Center in Charleston, before moving closer to "home" for display in Grave Creek's Delf Norona Museum.

Joe Wells III, president and chief executive officer of the family-owned company, and Randall Reid-Smith, commissioner of the West Virginia Department of Culture and History, which organized the traveling exhibit, spoke briefly at the start of the reception.

Later, I had an opportunity to chat with Wells, who said he was "very pleased" with the exhibit. "I can't tell you how impressed I am ... how well the Department of Culture and History has put this all together," he remarked. Wells added that the company owners were "quite honored to be a permanent exhibitee" at the state facility.

Wells also enjoyed his inaugural exposure to Grave Creek Mound Archaeological Complex. "I had no idea what to expect when they said they were going to put this in Moundsville," he said. "I am quite thrilled with this facility and the job that they have done."

Several representatives of Homer Laughlin were present at the reception, including Wells' sisters, Jean Wells Wicks and Elizabeth Wells McIlvain, who also are owners of the internationally renowned company. It was good to catch up with my friend and college classmate, Elizabeth, and with my family friends, Jean and her husband, Pete Wicks.

Meanwhile, the Homer Laughlin China Co. will play an important part in an upcoming big celebration in the Mountain State.

Reid-Smith revealed that Homer Laughlin will be producing special ware to commemorate the 2013 sesquicentennial of West Virginia's formation as the nation's 35th state.

Wells confirmed that the Newell company is working on the 150th anniversary project. "They (state officials) have approached us," Wells said.

"Our design department is putting together some ideas."

The Episcopal Diocese of West Virginia's annual diocesan convention at Flatwoods last weekend happened to coincide with the football showdown between Marshall University and West Virginia University.

The Rt. Rev. W. Michie Klusmeyer, bishop of the diocese, demonstrated his neutrality among his flock - divided between Thundering Herd and Mountaineers fans - by displaying a special crosier (bishop's staff) on game day. Half of the wooden crosier was painted green with white trim, while the other half was painted blue with gold trim, to represent the school colors of both teams.

The morning after the game, Klusmeyer,who collects and wears unusual sets of cufflinks, continued his neutral stance by wearing one Marshall cufflink and one WVU cufflink.

Linda Comins can be reached via e-mail at:

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