WV Secretary of State photo

Former West Virginia Secretary of State Helen Holt, pictured here in May before receiving an honorary doctorate from WVU, celebrated her 100th birthday Friday.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. – Helen Holt, the first woman to hold statewide office in West Virginia, celebrated her 100th birthday Friday.

Secretary of State photo

Helen Holt was appointed secretary of state by then-Gov. Cecil Underwood in 1957.

Holt was appointed to Secretary of State in 1957 by then-Gov. Cecil Underwood following the death of Secretary of State D. Pitt O’Brien.

An Illinois native, Holt served for two years before transitioning into the post of West Virginia’s assistant commissioner of public institutions, where she oversaw the women’s prison and homes for the elderly.

That led to an appointment by President Dwight Eisenhower to oversee the construction of safe nursing home facilities. She served for six more presidents in that role.

Current Secretary of State Natalie Tennant met Holt in 2009 and called her a pioneer.

“Helen Holt has become a trusted mentor and a wonderful friend over these last couple years,” Tennant said. “She is someone I can count on to always speak her mind. She is truly a trailblazer in West Virginia.”

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  • Jane

    Congratulations to Helen Holt. What a great life. A trailblazer, indeed.

  • Anon

    I was privileged to hear this woman speak at WVU's graduation this year--what an inspiration and a great woman of faith.

  • Frank & Helen Tsutras

    Best wishes to Helen on her 100th Birthday !
    I have not seen Helen for several years but I remember her as a lovely and honorable lady. always pleasant and gracious.
    May God bless you with good health as you celebrate your 100th year.
    Frank & Helen Tsutras, 6264 Glenwilton Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23188. (Congressional Staff Member, Retired) Hometown-Williamson, Mingo County)