CHARLESTON, W.Va. — He says he knows he is fortunate.

“I’ve just been lucky,” said longtime West Virginia Statesman Ken Hechler on Friday’s MetroNews “Talkline,” what was the eve of his 100th birthday. “I’ve been very lucky in the things that I’ve been able to accomplish.”

And, by many standards, Hechler has accomplished a lot during the past century.

Born on Sept. 20, 1914, he grew up in Roslyn, N.Y. and went on to graduate from Swarthmore College and Columbia University before joining the U.S. Army in 1942 where he served as a combat historian in Europe until 1946.

From 1949-1953, Hechler was an advisor to President Harry Truman and, later, a research director for Adlai Stevenson, a presidential hopeful, before moving to Huntington to teach political science at Marshall College, now Marshall University.

He represented West Virginia in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1959-1977–marching with Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. in Selma, Al. in 1965–and served as Secretary of State from 1985 to 2001. He ran again for Secretary of State in 2004 at the age of 90, but lost.

His last political campaign was in 2010 when Hechler ran for U.S. Senate to protest mountaintop removal mining following the death of longtime U.S. Senator Robert C. Byrd.

Hechler said he has always worked across political lines. “Even though I am a registered Democrat, I have many friends in the Republican Party and I appreciate their help,” he said.

Over the years, Hechler has written more than ten books. Last year, at the age of 99, Hechler married his longtime partner, Carol. The two, who live in Hampshire County, met decades ago when she enrolled in one of Hechler’s classes.

“I took an immediate liking to her,” Hechler said. “I decided one day to do what everybody thought I would never do which is to ask somebody to be my wife.”

Hechler will mark his birthday with private party this weekend in Romney.

“The secret of longevity is to exercise,” Hechler said. “I always exercised on the tennis court until I had to give that up, but I’ve got a new hip.”

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  • Loretta Martin

    Hello my friend. I hope you had a very happy Birthday and congrats. On your marriage. I hope you are very happy take care I miss seeing that little Red Jeep

  • Nick

    Don't be too hard on him, AJ. He just doesn't know any better.

  • Kurt Kleemann

    Here in Remagen Germany we'll always remember Ken Hechler for his books on THE BRIDGE AT REMAGEN and HERO OF THE RHINE THE KARL TIMMERMANN STORY.

  • Jonus Grumby

    Happy Birthday Ken! And congratulations on your semi-recent marriage. Perhaps it is time that you settle down and start a family : )

  • Jim G.

    Congratulations on your birthday Mr. Hechler. You always were (are) a gentleman and a scholar. You were an honorable congressman who served the state of West Virginia with distinction. It is a shame that your seat in congress was taken by Nick Rahal who could never fill your shoes.

  • Raging Moderate

    That's a lot of candles!

    Congratulations! A moderate after my own heart!

  • Steven Ferguson

    Mr. Hechler.
    Congratulatons! You are a great West Virginian and I've always admired you!
    Happy Birthday and keep on keeping on!

  • AJ

    Some classy a hole you are BooneCoConservative.

  • BooneCoConservative

    A democrap, AND a Marsha grad? Geesh!!!

  • In da stickes

    Lucky enough to have an invite to Ken's party and we are going. Great man, great statesman and now a great family man.

  • John

    I met ken he her many years ago when I was a student at alderson-broaddus and he was Secretary of State. What a joy it was to hear him speak. Happy birthday and all the best!

  • CaptainQ

    Happy Birthday to Ken Heckler!

    Maybe he'll consider another run at the Governor's Mansion in 2016! Why not? Stranger things have happened in WV politics before...

  • John

    Congratulations and a happy birthday to this young man. Ken was always a well respected person and very fair in his dealings with the public.The red Jeep was always his mode of travel and he put many miles on them. Thanks, Ken, for a job well done!

  • Frank & Helen Tsutras

    HAPPY BIRTHDAY KEN !!! We wish you continued happiness and good health as you grow "younger". I appreciated the years we worked together in Congress and the respect we had for each other, Your life has been loaded with your personal dedication to your Constituents in and outside West Virginia. May God bless you with all the good things liffe has to offer. Best wishes and thank you for your years of service to our Nation.
    Frank & Helen Tsutras, 6264 Glenwilton Lane, Williamsburg, VA 23188.

  • hillbilly

    I see he still likes Red Jeeps

  • Monty

    Congratulationg Mr. Hechler. I wish more WV officials were more like you!