Paden City Foundation Names Distinguished Alumni Award Recipients | News, Sports, Jobs
Although over 4 decades and at least one generation separates the two recipients of this year’s Paden City High School Distinguished Alumni Award, both awardees share a love for community and the internal mandate for the betterment of humanity in their daily lives and in the projects they continue to undertake. The DAA committee is pleased to announce Duane Guy Nichols, PCHS Class of 1955 and Danielle Ice-Davis, PCHS Class of 1999 will be given the coveted award on Saturday, July 2 in Jesse Brown Memorial Hall on the campus of Paden City High School at 4:30. The awarding ceremony will be a part of the annual PCHS Alumni celebration weekend that is slated to begin Thursday, June 30 and continue throughout the weekend with various activities.
Duane Guy Nichols, a graduate of PCHS in 1955 where he was a member of the Wildcat basketball team that had a season record of 23 wins against 3 losses, he went on to attain a Bachelor of Science degree in Chemical Engineering from West Virginia University in 1959. Nichols then gained graduate work at the University of Delaware with a National Defense Education Act Fellowship where he earned a Master’s Degree in Chemical Engineering in 1963. Duane then took his expertise to Delaware State University to join the faculty where he served as the first head of the Department of Physics as well as director of the Nuclear Radiation Laboratory. While at Delaware State, Duane supervised the State civil defense program on fallout shelter instrumentation. In 1968, Nichols returned to WVU as an assistant professor of chemical engineering and later as an associate professor while serving as coordinator of the National Science Foundation program on the Siting of Coal Conversion Complexes in Appalachia. In 1977, Nichols became the head of the fossil energy section at the Research Triangle Institute in Durham, North Carolina which was supported by the Environmental Protection Agency. In 1980, he moved to Library, PA as a senior process engineer for the Conoco Coal Development Corporation and later retired to the Cheat Lake of Morgantown in 2000 with his wife Sue Miles Nichols.
While living in the Cheat Lake area, Duane serves as the president of the Cheat Lake Environment and Recreation Association. This group has undertaken projects to establish and improve beaches at Cheat Lake, hiking trails and boating on the lake while conserving the native habitat in the Cheat River Canyon. Nichols is also active in 4-H and is co-chairman of the Upper Monongahela Area Watersheds Compact and serves as board member of the Mon-Valley Clean Air Coalition where is promotes the installation of monitors in our river valleys for ultra-fine particulates and hazardous air pollutants.
Another area of interest to Duane is his activism in bringing about peaceful social reform. While a student at the University of Delaware, Nichols was a founding member of the Student Committee Against Discrimination. It was in this capacity and through this group that Duane tapped into his desire to campaign for social reforms and end discrimination in our nation. Nichols often shares stories of his activities and obstacles he encountered and overcame in his quest to help bring about or at least start the discussion surrounding the ways we, as citizens of the United States, respect all peoples. Nichols joined with 6 other members of this group and were successful in changing state laws in Delaware to accommodate the general public and foreign students in restaurants.
When notified of his upcoming award, Nichols shared some thoughts about his education and upbringing in Paden City noting, “My father was a good teacher. He was my teacher in 6th, 7th and 8th grades. My high school teachers were good and I recall all of them quite well…Jesse Brown, Owen McKay, and Ray Berger were outstanding teachers. Without their education, I would not have survived in college.” Nichols’ other memories of high school include the school proms, the class plays, traveling with the band to football games and playing on the basketball team, coming just one win away from a state championship. Nichols credits a chemistry class taught by Mr. McKay and a physics class instructed by Mr. Brown as two driving forces behind his career in science and engineering.
When asked about his feelings about his hometown, Duane intimated that having moved to Paden City at age 6, it was and is a place where he and his parents found to be a good choice noting the schools, the public library, their church and the community of friends has been a rich heritage for his family. Duane’s advice is to “take one day at a time, learn something new each day, accomplish more each day and build your future.” Nichols closed with a reference to the Music Man musical in stating, “Paden City starts with P which rhymes with T which stands for Trouble. Take it as good trouble, take it as a challenge, take it and help make Paden City a better place.”
The Distinguished Alumni Award committee recognizes Duane’s professional accomplishments as well as his continued love for our environment and his history in bringing about peaceful social reform in our nation in making this selection for the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award. Our school and town is well represented by Mr. Nichols. His accomplishments and outlook on life exemplifies the attributes we find admirable and hope for future generations of graduates from Paden City High School.
Danielle Ice-Davis is a graduate of Paden City High School and member of the Class of 1999. While in high school Danielle was very active in school activities and club and a member of the award-winning Wildcat Marching Band. Danielle served as the school mascot and her old uniform can be seen on display in the Paden City Museum. She also served at Student Body Co-President and chaplain and was one of Paden City’s representatives to the Rhododendron Girls State. Ice was also a member of the National Honor Society and the First Federal Savings and Loan Academic Hall of Fame. Danielle was also a first runner-up in the town’s Miss Labor Day queen’s pageant. During her years in the band, the group accomplished a feat only a handful of marching bands in West Virginia can claim. The marching band placed in the top 10 and appeared in the finals of the Eastern Regional Marching Bands of America competition which saw bands from all over the eastern coast of the United States compete. This was the second time in PCHS school history, the Wildcat marching band earned such a distinction.
Ice-Davis offered the following synopsis of her school days in Paden City: “There were so many teachers and staff at both Paden City Elementary and High Schools that inspired me, but there are a few that hold a special place in my heart. Mrs Satterfield will always be one of my absolute favorite teachers ever! And Miss Mary Jung, the kindergarten aid – I wouldn’t have made it through my first year without her! The lunch ladies at the Elementary school – while I can’t remember all their names, they were all angels! Mr Ferrebee and Mr Rexroad, custodians at the schools – were always so kind and helpful – and they always had a smile for me. Mrs Sine, the principal at PCES, she was (and still is!) always so poised and professional and yet always willing and available to help a student – and she knew each one of us! Mr Joy, one of the two most awesome 5th grade teachers ever, was very special too. I remember him writing on one of my papers that he thought I might become a star comedian someday, lol Love his heart – he passed away during our 5th grade year; we were all grief stricken – he was definitely one of those really special teachers. And Mrs Slider, she was our substitute teacher when Mr Joy had gotten so sick. I didn’t realize at the time how difficult it must have been for her to not only continue our lessons each day, but to also really be there for the students as we were worried about and missing Mr Joy. She was such a rock and comfort to us all, even when she was coping with her friend’s illness as well. And finally… I had the unique experience of having my Daddy as my teacher (he would be the other most awesome 5th grade teacher ever). Although I spent most of the year trying to avoid addressing him by any name, and did on many occasions instigate and collaborate in being a loving torment to him in class. Some of his history lessons are fond memories that have served me well in life and trivia games! I was truly blessed to have my father as a teacher.
I have both fun and fond memories of many PCHS teachers & staff too! I always admired Mrs Doty – was such an excellent English teacher – I really enjoyed her classes! And Mr Grace, I admired him as a principal; he seemed to me like a ship’s captain (although I’ve never been on a ship…) but he commanded the school with a true respect for all its “passengers” and “crew”. He took the time to write recommendation letters to both my undergraduate and graduate school programs. And Mrs Stuart, the PCHS secretary – she was just awesome! She helped Mr Grace run the school to perfection; she took the time to get to know all the students and she was a hoot! She always had us laughing and smiling, I LOVED working as an office aid my junior and senior years.”
After graduation, Danielle earned degrees from Mount Vernon Nazarene University and Capella University and continues her studies in art therapy and fine arts. While at Mount Vernon, Ice-Davis was a member of the Treble Singers, and capitalized on her Wildcat experience served as the MVNU Cougar mascot.
Upon returning to her hometown, Danielle waste no time in investing her time in volunteering and work in the community to do her part to keep things rolling in Paden City, make improvements where she saw fit and encourage others to volunteer. Danielle’s love of history and family history, in particular qualified her for membership in the Daughters of the Revolution. She also works with the mater Dolorosa Catholic Church Thursday Lunch group, serves as vice president of the Lighthouse Child Advocacy Center, works with the annual Esther Crumbly Food and toy Drives and has served as judge for the West Virginia Social Studies Fair. In past years, Ice-Davis has worked in the Paden City Nazarene Church Children’s department and assisted weekly services with sound and video. In serving her alma mater through fund-raising, Danielle worked with the Wildcat Boosters in their weekly bingo projects. Ice-Davis has even served in the unofficial capacity of Town’s First Lady while her husband Joel Davis served as Mayor of Paden City. Quite possibly one of Danielle’s more public volunteer roles involves her work with the Friends of the Paden City Pool. Along with her assistance, this group was able to receive grant monies to convert the town’s toddler pool into a splash pad which is more hygienic and keeps with the trends in public pools, offering a cool respite for younger pool-goers in a safe environment. Their work in getting funding led to a quick installation of the new pad so that visitors to the park and pool could enjoy the new amenity. Her work and that of the group’s continues to be a leading effort in making our city park and pool a viable option for summertime fun.
Ice-Davis currently serves as the head librarian of the Paden City Public Library. Under her guidance, the library serves as a beacon to the town’s reading enthusiasts as well as folks who need the use of office equipment such as computers and printers in their job-seeking efforts. A member of the DAA committee commented, “Danielle and the whole staff at the library work so hard in making our public library a wonderful place for learning and exploring. The Library Board works hard to get funding for the operations and maintenance of the facility and Danielle has been so instrumental in getting educational programs for our town’s youngsters.” Recently nearly 100 children crowded into the library for a presentation given by Oglebay’s Good Zoo. Each year, the library holds pumpkin decorating events also. “It is obvious Danielle’s love of learning and reading and her commitment to her job is helping guide the town’s public library in the most positive direction. When asked about her thoughts of her career in the library Danielle offered, “I have been beyond blessed to have the best job in the world! If someone had told me when I was younger that I would work in a library someday. Yet, by the Grace of God – I was offered a part time position at Paden City Public Library and it has honestly turned out to be my dream job! I love the diversity – one minute I’m helping someone find a good beach read, the next helping with a research project. One day starts with StoryTime for toddlers, then helping an adult revise a resume, then helping a senior patron learn how to use email. From fixing toilets to toys, playing games to doing yoga, completing statistical reports to writing grants to collaborating with the local schools and civic organizations – I get to help so many folks (and critters) in so many different ways and I absolutely LOVE it!! And I get to do it in my hometown!”
Danielle offered the following advice to students of Paden City’s schools: “Make the most of your time in high school! Participate in as much as you can – whatever your passion is (academics, sports, the arts, student government, clubs, church, community service, etc). Make lots of memories (and seriously – write down the special ones so you don’t forget them)! In everything you do – both now and in your future endeavors, give it your best and put your heart into it. Cherish the friendships you’ve made and keep in touch throughout your whole life.”
The Distinguished Alumni Award committee recognizes Danielle’s love of community, learning and reading and her commitment to helping Paden City be the best place it can be for our future generations. A committee spokesman stated, “It takes thoughtful hard-working people to make any community successful. Over the years and decades, our town has been blessed and continues to be blessed with folks of that mindset and attitude. Without their thought filled actions, our town would be nothing more than a wide spot in the road. We are very happy and excited to be able to recognize this can-do attitude and long-term desire to keep Paden City on the map in awarding the 2022 Distinguished Alumni Award to Danielle Ice-Davis.”