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  • Lee Maynard:An Executive and Writer with an Outlaw Edge
  • George Brosi

Lee Maynard is a man of many passions and pursuits. A very successful business consultant, he is also at home in the wilderness and carries with him a deep understanding of his native West Virginia. He has published more often for the staid Reader's Digest than for any other magazine, yet he took in stride the fact that his first book, Crum, was deemed unfit for sale and initially banned by Tamarack, the premier outlet for West Virginia books. The contrast between the proper style of Reader's Digest and his personal style of outlaw fiction does not seem to bother him. He just keeps writing.

A short conversation with Lee Maynard is much more likely to reveal that once, on a whim, he drove his motorcycle from New Mexico up to the Arctic Circle than the fact that he has served as a college president.

Lee Maynard was born in 1936 in his grandmother's parlor in Kenova, West Virginia. He lived there in Wayne County almost all the time until he graduated from Ceredo-Kenova High School in 1954. As an infant, he lived in a two-room cabin in what is now part of Cabwaylingo State Forest; he lived in Crum three different times and in Kenova on even more occasions. While Lee Maynard was growing up, his father was teaching in several Wayne County schools except for a couple of years when he worked at a Western Electric defense plant in Baltimore.

Playing football was one of Lee Maynard's high school pleasures, but he didn't have the size to play at West Virginia University, which he entered in the fall of 1954 initially as a pharmacy major and then as a journalism major. In the spring of his senior year, in 1958, he dropped out and hit the road, ending up in Los Angeles. There, Lee Maynard lived on the streets for a few weeks, in his words, "long enough to know living on the streets sucks big time and to view the Army as a safe haven. How wrong can one guy be?" In the Army, Maynard became a military policeman and criminal investigator. His investigation work led him to cross paths—not gently—with a local police commissioner. "He gave me a pretty hard time. But I fixed his wagon—I married his daughter." [End Page 14]

He married the commissioner's daughter in 1959. This youthful marriage lasted over fifty years until Helen's death in 2010. Part Seneca Indian, Helen proved sympathetic both to Maynard's wild side and his desire to make a difference. She, like him, also had a knack for businesses, especially those that promoted the work of native peoples.

Maynard was honorably discharged ("by the skin of my teeth") from the Army in the summer of 1961 and immediately returned to wvu. The next spring, he graduated with a major in journalism. Right out of college he was hired as editor of the West Virginia Conservation Magazine by the Department of Natural Resources, for which he soon served as Assistant Director of the Information and Education Division. Maynard loved this job and considers it one of the best he ever had. While he was working there, his daughter, Darci, was born in 1962, and his son, Toran, in 1965. Significantly, Maynard's career started with a job that required great responsibility and competence and that served all kinds of outdoor enthusiasts and adventurers. This experience landed him the job of Director of Public Relations for the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce and the editorship of West Virginia Commerce. From there, he was appointed the Executive Secretary of the newly formed West Virginia Commission on Manpower, Technology and Training, an outgrowth of the 1960s "War on Poverty." To become, in 1967, the youngest secretary of a state department, who also wrote speeches for the governor, indeed represented a meteoric rise. During this time, Maynard commuted once a week from his home in Charleston to Huntington for graduate courses at Marshall University.

Lee Maynard's success implementing and managing programs in West Virginia launched him...


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