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Ken Hechler received a Ph.D. in political science from Columbia University and taught at Columbia College and Barnard College. He was drafted into the army infantry in 1942, and following officer candidates school, was commissioned as a second lieutenant in the U.S. Army during World War II and, after service in the European Theater of Operations, rose to the rank of major. He assisted President Roosevelt in the preparation of the thirteen-volume Public Papers and Addresses of Franklin D. Roosevelt. Hechler taught political science at Princeton, and later he accepted the post of special assistant in charge of research for President Truman. In 1958, Hechler was elected a US Congressman of West Virginia and was re-elected for eighteen years. He was elected to four, four-year terms as West Virginia Secretary of State.


  • Family: Ken was born September 20, 1914, in Roslyn, NY; son of Charles Henry (an estate superintendent) and Catherine Elizabeth (Hauhart) Hechler. His grandfather George Hechler emigrated from Germany in 1854, enlisted with Union infantry at Parkersburg, West Virginia, wounded at Antietam and discharged at Wheeling, West Virginia. Ken's father was a University of Missouri graduate, managed Clarence H. Mackay's 600 acre farm estate on Long Island, was elected to numerous Republican county offices and President of Board of Education. He was secretary-treasurer of New York Guernsey Breeders' Association and a bank president. Ken's mother was a school teacher in St. Louis County. She was elected to numerous Republican county offices on Long Island and was a noted raiser and exhibitor of Chrysanthemums.
  • Education: Swarthmore College, A.B., 1935; Columbia University, A.M., 1936, Ph.D., 1940. Ken has received honorary degrees from WV Institute of Technology, The University of Charleston, Swarthmore College and Marshall University.
  • Politics: Democrat.
  • Religion: Episcopalian.
  • Memberships:
    • American Political Science Association (associate director, 1953-55);
    • Life Member, American Legion, VFW and DAV;
    • Life Member, Judson Welliver Society of Presidential Speech-Writers;
    • Member of the Elks;
    • Golden Key International Honor Society;


  • U.S. Bureau of the Census, Section Chief, 1940;
  • U.S. Office for Emergency Management, Washington, DC, personnel officer, 1941-42;
  • U.S. Bureau of the Budget, Washington, DC, administrative analyst in Division of Administrative Management, 1942 and 1946-47;
  • Princeton University, Princeton, NJ, assistant professor of politics, 1947-49;
  • Special assistant and research director of speech-writing team for President Harry S. Truman, 1949-53;
  • Research director for presidential candidate Adlai E. Stevenson, 1956;
  • Marshall College (now Marshall University), Huntington, WV, associate professor of political science, 1957, 1982-83;
  • Legislative assistant to Senator John A. Carroll of Colorado, 1957;
  • U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC, representative from West Virginia, 1959-77;
  • Science consultant for House of Representatives committee on science and technology, 1978-80;
  • University of Charleston, Charleston, WV, adjunct professor of political science, 1981;
  • Marshall University, adjunct professor of political science, 1982-83;
  • Delegate to the Democratic National Convention, 1964, 68, 72, 80 and 84;
  • Board of Directors WV Humanities Council, 1982-84;
  • Member of the WV State Democratic Executive Committee, 1998-99.
  • West Virginia Secretary of State, Charleston, WV, 1985-2001;

Worked with numerous charities, including National Foundation March of Dimes, 1976, Arthritis Foundation, National Cystic Fibrosis Research Foundation, and United Way. Lecturer and consultant. Military service: U.S. Army, 1942-46; promoted to colonel; in reserves received Bronze Star.


  • Named West Virginia's Son of the Year by West Virginia State Society, 1969;
  • Named West Virginia's Speaker of the Year by West Virginia University, 1970;
  • Received the Conservation Award from the National Audubon Society in 1973;
  • Recipient of the Mother Jones Award, WV Environmental Council, 1995;
  • Received the Civil and Human Rights Award, Martin Luther King Commission, WV in 2001;
  • Received the Harry S. Truman Award for Public Service in 2002;
  • Named Professor of the Year by the Marshall University Student Senate, 2002;
  • Mountaineer of the Year, Graffiti Magazine, 2003;
  • Received annual WV Humanities Council Award in 2005;
  • Grand Marshall, Martin Luther King Parade, Huntington, 2003 and 2006;
  • Presented the Civil Rights Award, by WV's Governor in 2006;
  • Good Samaritan Award, Pinch, WV Reunion Committee;
  • Inducted into the WV Labor Hall of Honor, 2006.


  • Only Congressman to march with Martin Luther King in Selma, Alabama.
  • First Congressman sponsoring legislation to limit coal dust and provide strict safety standards in Federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act of 1969.
  • Fought against corruption in coal union, risked life to campaign for Jock Yablonski, insurgent candidate later murdered.
  • Crusaded against strip mining and mountain top removal of coal.
  • Helped mobilize secretaries of state and attorneys general in 33 states to limit campaign spending.
  • Led campaign to more fairly appraise and tax West Virginia natural resources owned by out -of-state corporations.
  • Cracked down on West Virginia political corruption.
  • Walked 530 miles with Doris "Granny D" Haddock on behalf of campaign finance reform.


  • Insurgency: Personalities and Politics of the Taft Era, Columbia University Press, 1940, reprinted, Russell & Russell, 1964.
  • The Bridge at Remagen (nonfiction), Ballantine, 1957.
  • West Virginia Memories of President Kennedy, privately printed, 1964.
  • Toward the Endless Frontier: A History of the House Committee on Science and Technology, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1980.
  • The Endless Space Frontier, American Astronautical Society, 1982.
  • Working With Truman: A Personal Memoir of the White House Years, Putnam, 1982.
  • Holding the Line: The 51st Engineer Combat Battalion and the Battle of the Bulge, December 1944-January 1945, prologue and epilogue by Barry W. Fowle, Office of History, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (Fort Belvoir, VA), 1988.
  • Municipal Election Procedures Guide, Secretary of State, State of West Virginia (Charleston, WV), 1995.
  • Running for Office in West Virginia, 1996, Secretary of State (Charleston, WV), 1996.
  • Guide for Political Party Executive Committees for West Virginia Elections, 2nd edition, Secretary of State (Charleston, WV), 1996.
  • Hero of the Rhine, 2004
  • Super Marine!, 2007

Columnist for Princeton Times, Gulf Times, and Parkersburg News, 1973-76. Contributor to newspapers, including Washington Post, Baltimore Sun, Charleston Gazette, and Huntington Herald-Dispatch.