A Local Love Story, Mary and Paul
Mary, what was it like growing up in Weirton? At the time, Weirton Steel was the main employer. Everything revolved around the mill. I grew up on Marland Heights. During the summers, I hung out at the Margaret Manson Weir Pool where admission was $.20 for adults and $.10 for children. I spent my summers there working at the pool as a lifeguard.
Paul, what was it like growing up in Paden City? It’s a great little town along the Ohio River, bisected by the Tyler-Wetzel county line. Everything in town revolves around its churches, schools, and community organizations. Growing up there, we lived at the outdoor basketball court, the ball fields, and the parks. The whole community got involved volunteering on behalf of the town. Everyone knew everyone and helped anyone that needed help.
Mary, where did you go to school? I was in the Class of 1962 at Weirton High School. We rode the city buses to and from school where we purchased a book of tickets each month for $3.
Paul, where did you go to school? I graduated from Paden City High School in 1961 and attended WVU from 1961 to 1965.
How did you meet? Mary and I had an evening class together. After the final examination, we finished the test at about the same time. I caught up with her and asked if she wanted to have a soda and talk about the test. I couldn’t believe I finally got the nerve to ask her out and she said yes!
Paul, you were both educators during the 1960s in Beallsville, Ohio. What was that like? I graduated from WVU in the middle of the school year. Beallsville was looking for a Title Nine teacher for the elementary school and I took the job. The next year I was offered a teacher’s job teaching Biology, Advanced Biology, and General Science. I was also the Head Basketball Coach, Assistant Football Coach, and Track Coach. I remember the first semester at Beallsville, Mary and I rode every bus route on the school bus so we could see where our students lived. It was a great experience that we were so glad to have. We stayed there for six years, then returned to Paden City to work and raise our family.
Mary, you were a cheerleader at Weir High. How has cheerleading changed? There is no comparison to today. We didn’t do stunts or pyramids. Our uniforms were conservative, long skirts, sweaters and a white moccasin type shoe.
Paul, how did you end up playing soccer at WVU?I had a Physical Education class my Junior year at WVU. Sam Maurice and Assistant Coach Greg Myers approached me after class and asked me to go out for the soccer team. At the time, WVU had only had a team for two years. I joined the team not knowing anything about soccer. My biggest thrill playing soccer was winning the Southern Conference Tournament in the fall of 1965. We played four games in two days at Davidson College. Two other memorable soccer experiences included playing Ohio State University at “The Horseshoe” and in August, 2010 when I played in the alumni soccer game celebrating 50 years of soccer at WVU.
Paul, how did Wissmach Glass get started? The company began when a German immigrant in New York City saw an advertisement for land along the Ohio River and recognized the opportunity for industrial development. He had previously been importing stained glass from Europe. In 1903, he started the Empire Glass Company in Paden City and in 1910, the name was changed to the Ohio Valley Glass Company. Then, in 1926, it became the Paul Wissmach Glass Company.
Paul, how did you decide to join the family business? In 1972, I decided to leave Beallsville High School in order to explore other opportunities. I had teaching job offers from high schools in Avon on the Lake, Ohio and Salisbury, Maryland. Wissmach Glass also offered me employment. We decided to tab with Wissmach and moved back to Paden City to work and raise our family. We have often wondered what our lives would have been like had I taken the job in Avon or Salisbury.
Mary, your dad went to Stanford University in California. What brought him to West Virginia? He met my mother in California and they were married in 1930. They moved to Detroit to work in the steel industry. From there, he transferred to Weirton.
You are loyal WVU fans. Is there a stadium in the Big 12 you enjoy more than others? Mary and I love the Baylor and Texas stadiums. We attended the first WVU/Texas Big 12 in Austin on October 6, 2012. After WVU beat Texas 48-46 before the largest crowd in Texas history (101,000), the UT coach, Mack Brown, was speechless.
Mary, do you have a favorite Bill Stewart story? Bill always had time to talk and visit. We took a ride past his house one day and Bill was in his yard. He stopped us after we waved to him and said, “How do you turn this darned new sprinkler on?”
Paul, how about you? We have quite a few favorite Coach Stewart stories. He was a great person, friend, a Christian, and a family man.
Paul, do you have a Coach Huggins story to share? Oh, yes, a few. Coach Huggins sometimes gets a bad rap but he is a very giving and charitable person. Shortly after returning to WVU to coach, he got a call that a coal mine in Southern WV had exploded. Upon hearing this, he immediately called a friend to fly water and food to the area to help the families and first responders. Another time, a basketball official stopped the game and asked Huggs why he was always yelling at him. Huggs replied, “I am just trying to make you a better official.”
Paul, besides luck, any keys to a long lasting marriage? That’s easy. Be respectful to your wife and do exactly what she asks you to do.
Mary, what are your keys? We really enjoy each other (most of the time). Laughing is a big part of our relationship.
Mary, anything on your bucket list? Hmmm… just to keep going as long as we can.
Mary, what advice would you give to your younger self? I think I would tell myself to be more adventurous.
How different is being a parent from being a grandparent? Mary: There’s no pressure being a parent or great grandparent. We really enjoy our time with our whole family. Paul: a parent can be a friend and a parent. A grandparent can just be a friend and let the parents handle the drama.
What do you try to avoid? Mary: drama. Paul: DRAMA. Don’t need it. Life is too short to be a negative person and a constant complainer.
You choose: hot dog or steak? Mary: we love cooking steak on the grill in the evening and listening to good music. Pie or cake? I’ll take ice cream.
Do you have a favorite city you like to visit? Mary: we have enjoyed every place we have been. Any place we go is our favorite. Paul: Wetzel and Tyler Counties are a great place to live. When we go away it’s always a joy to return home.
Looking back is there a person or persons that had the most influence on you? Mary: my parents. I led a quiet life compared to today’s young adults. We were not allowed to run free. No teens had cars. My dad taught me to be strong and independent. My mother was a gentle woman. Paul: my parents instilled that God, Family, Country, and Friends are the most important things in your life. Yes, it’s a little corny sounding but think about it and it’s true.
Do you have teachers that nudged you in the right direction? Paul: yes, all my teachers had to give me a little nudge and some of them had to give me a big nudge. Paden City High School was a very good school and all the teachers were helpful.
Yogi Berra once asked his dad for a baseball glove, bat and ball for Christmas. His dad said, “Which one you do you want?” Is there a difficult choice in your life that stands out? Paul: Life is about choices. A lot of people don’t want to be responsible for the choices they make in life and they don’t want to admit that their decisions have real life consequences.
Interview By John Yeuvta