James (Jim) Conley Justice II, the 36th governor of West Virginia, has financial interests in coal, timber and other industries, but he is best known as the owner of the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs. He was born April 27, 1951, in Charleston to James Conley Justice and Edna Ruth Perry Justice. He grew up in Raleigh County and attended the University of Tennessee, later transferring to Marshall University where he received his bachelor and master’s degrees.
After college, Justice became involved in the family business. In 1977, he started Bluestone Farms, an operation that grew to more than 50,000 acres in four states and is the largest grain producer on the East Coast. During that time, he also developed Stoney Brook Plantation, a 15,000-acre hunting and fishing preserve in Monroe County. After the death of his father in 1993, Justice became the president of Bluestone Industries and Bluestone Coal Corporation. Over the next 15 years, the operations expanded to include numerous businesses, including Christmas tree farms, cotton gins, turf grass operations, and golf courses. In 2009, Justice sold the family’s coal operations in West Virginia to Mechel, a Russian company. Justice remains the president and CEO of about 50 companies.
Justice purchased The Greenbrier from CSX in May 2009, surprising many who anticipated another buyer for the resort, which was facing bankruptcy. He also purchased The Greenbrier Sporting Club, a private golf and residential community on the grounds of the resort.
Justice’s leadership has brought substantial change to the resort. A casino–complete with a room for high rollers—opened with great fanfare in 2010. That year, the resort also launched The Greenbrier Classic, a golf tournament that is part of the PGA Tour. In 2012, the resort will launch a luxury train service from Washington to White Sulphur Springs. At least two other major projects are on the horizon for The Greenbrier, including the addition of a deluxe condominium complex and a $250 million medical facility.
Since purchasing The Greenbrier, Justice has invested in other West Virginia properties, as well. He bought the Resort at Glade Springs in 2010, and the Black Knight Country Club in Beckley in 2011. In 2010, Justice’s company purchased 4,500 acres in Albemarle County, Virginia, from MeadWestvaco, and in 2011, the company bought the historic Flowerdew Hundred plantation on the James River. The plantation was the site of one of the earliest English settlements in America. In 2012, Justice purchased Wintergreen Resort near Charlottesville, Virginia.
With a net worth estimated at $1.2 billion, Justice made Forbes Magazine’s 2012 list of billionaires.
One of Justice’s greatest passions is sports. He served as president of the Beckley Little League and has coached basketball at every level. Justice, who has lived in Lewisburg since 2001, has been the girls basketball coach at Greenbrier East High School since 2003. In 2011, he also became the head coach for the boys basketball teams. He is the only coach at the AAA level in the state who does both girls and boys basketball. In discussing the coaching position, Justice said, “There are three things I know that I can do, and that’s shoot a shotgun, make a deal and coach basketball. I’m excited about it.”
He and his wife, Cathy, have two children, including a son who has joined him in the family business. In 2015, Justice became a candidate for the Democratic nomination for governor. In 2016, he became the Democratic Party candidate, and he won the election by receiving 49% of all votes cast.
This Article was written by Becky Calwell
Last Revised on February 21, 2017
Dave Morrison. Justice Named Boys Basketball Coach at Greenbrier East High School. Beckley Register-Herald, June 15, 2011.
Cite This Article
Calwell, Becky "Jim Justice." e-WV: The West Virginia Encyclopedia. 21 February 2017. Web. 25 March 2017.