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Gus Douglass


Gus R. Douglass (1927-2015), commissioner of agriculture for more than 40 years, was born on February 22, 1927, and raised on a farm at Grimms Landing in Mason County. He operated a farm equipment and motor truck dealership before joining state government.

Douglass started with the West Virginia Department of Agriculture in 1957 as assistant commissioner. He was first elected commissioner of agriculture in 1964 and was reelected five times. He ran for governor in 1988, but lost in the Democratic primary to Gaston Caperton, who went on to defeat Arch Moore in the general election. Douglass was elected commissioner of agriculture again in 1992 and reelected four more times. Douglass, the longest-serving agricultural commissioner in the country, did not seek reelection in 2012.

Douglass was active with 4-H and the Future Farmers of America and was the only person from West Virginia to serve as national president of FFA. In 2006, West Virginia State University renamed its land-grant programs as the Gus R. Douglass Institute for his dedication to education, research, and extension outreach throughout the state.

His was married to the former Anna Lee Roush, and they had four children. Douglass and his son, Tom, operated the family’s 540-acre farm, specializing in beef cattle and grain production. He died March 19, 2015, after a fall at his Mason County home.