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The Spiker Gazette
Oxford, WVVolume  9Issue  2June 2015
In this Issue:Family Gathers at the Spiker Family Farm - The 2015 Reunion
Obituary - Paul Miller


Family Gathers at the Spiker Family Farm - The 2015 Reunion

Written by:  Mike Spiker


     “Former Corn Hole Champions Reclaim Their Crown After Tournament Delay Due to Lack of Equipment and Only Professional Player”

     After 2 years of losing their prior Championship crown at the Spiker Reunion Annual Corn Hole Tournament -- directed by Jonelle Spiker Swiger, her father John Spiker, and her husband Chris Swiger (a professional who is allowed to play by special exemption) -- regained their crown and the trophy by defeating last year’s champions, Missy Spangler Stotts and Brock Stotts. One difference between this year and last year is that Missy is now pregnant; however, in the spirit of good losers that was not used as an excuse. 

     The year before, John Bob Spiker and his wife, Kate, defeated his dad John and brother-in-law Chris; however, their performance this year was also affected by children since they had just had their 5th girl a few days before. Thus, some may say the championship is slightly tainted due to children issues.

     The tournament delay was due, in part, to one of the championship team members (I will let you guess who, but it was the professional named above) getting lost on his ATV (coming from the Sue/John Spiker Camp in Doddridge County to the reunion). What is, to most, an easy 20-minute trip took him over 2 hours (exact time unknown but as a writer you are allowed to assume some things) as he meandered through the hills of WVA.  (It also involved numerous cell phone calls -- when he was able to get to a tall enough hill that had cell service -- or he may still have been traveling West Virginia.)  Also, he was to bring the official tournament corn hole championship game boards and bags, but those did not arrive. Fortunately another person went home and got their championship quality boards so there would not be a challenge to the winner due to use of the Spiker Farm boards. After this lost soul was finally found and arrived at the games, it was clear it did not affect his game since he used his skills to score, so as to keep up with his father-in-law, John, who was also on target.

     The tournament concluded with the presentation of the official trophy (hand-welded and designed) by Jonelle and Chris’ son, Sawyer (pictured above), who then presented it to the winners with the prior year’s winners present. I believe his grandfather will proudly display it on his mantle like he should. Missy and Brock have theirs displayed at their house.

     We look forward to next year’s games when perhaps the female members of the last 2 year winners will be back in prime health and ready to carry their husbands to victory.

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     There were numerous participants in the Fishing Derby, assisted by various relatives and friends.    

Winners were:

  • Biggest Fish - Sawyer Swiger - 15-1/2" large mouth bass,
  • Smallest Fish - TIE - Kista Stotts and Gracie Spiker (pictured)
  • Most Fish Caught - TIE - Bryce Benson and Kate Smith

          However, the turtle bounty of $20 for any caught turtle went uncollected.


     Chief Chef Jeff Spiker, assisted by several “turners” & “advisors”, furnished another huge batch of the best barbecued chicken ever made.
     As always, we try to have a "Learn About WVA Outdoors" activity, and this year I was fortunate to have Brock Stotts make a presentation on how to correctly capture, hold, and pet snapping turtles. One of the turtles was very LARGE. The event was well attended and numerous persons participated in the turtle holding event. 
     Bobbi & Gary's twin grandchildren were the hit of the reunion. I think half of the people walked around and held them. We were glad Haley made the extra effort to get them here. 
     Here's a good story you may not have heard: the reunion "Billfold Gift". The moral of the story (according to ME) is "You never know what you might win at the reunion drawing...or what MIGHT BE IN IT."  I'll let Angie tell it. You can read Angie's story here.
Respectfully Submitted by Mike Spiker,
your unpaid (thus I do not confirm all events)
Reunion Committee Director/CoDirector





♦  Submitted by Haley Cloughessy -- Around 70 family members (some traveled all the way from Colorado and New York) and a few neighbors came out to enjoy the chicken, auction, fishing derby and cornhole competition at the reunion this weekend. We welcomed our newest family member -- just 10 days old -- pictured here with her mother, Kate.  Jacob and Gay Zinn-Spiker now have 124 descendants - and two more on the way.  

The reunion also marked the 175th year that the land has been in our family. "Henry O. Middleton, by deed dated May 31, 1840, recorded in Ritchie County, Deed Book 1, Page 223, deeded to John W. Zinn of Lewis County, Virginia, 200 acres on Middle Fork of Hughes River including land at the mouth of Bear Run." You can read the "History of the Spiker Family Farm from 1768 to Present" here.


♦  Submitted by: Jane Hayes -- My son, Cruz, will be attending WVU in the fall pursuing a degree in Business. He will then be transferring to the Pittsburgh Institute of Mortuary Science. He is very excited for the opportunities in his future and becoming a Mountaineer!! He will also be attending a WV Adventure camp for college credits the first week in July, traveling our state with a group of his peers. He's looking forward to this trip.

If anyone would like to send Cruz a graduation card, please mail it to 703 New York Ave., Harrisville, WV  26362.


♦  Submitted by Mike Spiker -- Mark & Marilyn's 4th daughter, Jeana, just graduated from Marshall University.  She was very close to her grandmother, Alice Spiker, and promised grandma she would finish high school & go to college. Here is a photo of her diploma on Alice's grave at South Fork Baptist Cemetery where many of our ancestors are buried. Jeanna wrote a very touching story about Alice's impact in her life. You can read that essay here.


♦  Submitted by:  Paula Miller Nolan

March 22, 1917 – June 5, 2015

Born in the Northern Panhandle of West Virginia in 1917 at the start of the involvement of the United States in World War I, Paul Miller’s life story is emblematic of how perseverance can overcome the many obstacles life throws at us. Active in 4H during his youth, Miller graduated from high school in Newell, WV, then pursued university studies first at Bethany (WV) College before graduating from West Virginia University. Following graduation from WVU in 1939 he served as a county agricultural extension agent in Ritchie and Nicholas Counties in West Virginia. Upon the entry of the United States into World War II, Miller enlisted in the US Army Air Corps where he served as a navigator in the AAF Ferry Command until his honorable discharge in December 1945. He then enrolled in graduate studies at Michigan State University earning a PhD in Anthropology and Sociology in 1953.

This launched what was to become a 50+ year academic career first at Michigan State where he served as a faculty member, Director of Cooperative Extension, and Provost. In 1962 he became President of West Virginia University serving there until 1966 when President Lyndon Johnson appointed him the first Assistant Secretary for Education in the U.S. Department of Health Education and Welfare. 

Following a year of service (1968-1969) as a professor at the newly established University of North Carolina-Charlotte, Miller was appointed President of Rochester Institute of Technology. He served in that role until 1979 when he returned to the RIT faculty as a professor in the Division of Science and Humanities. 

Following retirement from RIT, Miller served as an adjunct professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia prior to moving to Montrose, Colorado in 2011.

Miller was preceded in death by his first wife Catherine Spiker Miller, his second wife Francena Lounsbery Miller and his son Thomas A. Miller. He is survived by his daughter Paula Miller Nolan, son-in-law Michael F. Nolan, good friend Janice Dexter. and faithful canine companion Ben, all of Montrose. Colorado; three grandsons – Ryan (Barbara) Thrush of Delta Colorado, Evan (Jen) Thrush of San Anselmo California, and Christopher (Jenny) Nolan of San Tan Valley Arizona; and seven great-grandchildren.

Paul Miller’s life is chronicled in his professional memoir Bridging Campus and Community. Contributions in his memory can be made to HopeWest, Montrose Colorado. A private memorial service will be held at a later date.