Sterling Spencer, woodsman and hunter, self-taught wood carver, public servant and churchman, was a greatly admired and celebrated figure in the town of Richwood and the State of West Virginia for many decades. From his birth on January 14, 1915 at the family farm on Hinkle Mountain until his death in Richwood August 21, 1996 at the age of 82, Sterling’s life bridged the rough and tumble wilderness hunting and subsistence farming experience that typified that of mountain people during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries and the increasingly global experience that was forced upon the men and women who fought WWII and who made new lives for themselves during the age of perennially changing technologies that followed.
About twenty-five years ago, when Sterling was in his late 60s, he sat for an interview with photojournalist Bill Kuykendall. Tape recordings of that interview had never been published when Kuykendall dusted them off and digitized them in 2008. From these recordings, Kuykendall compiled more than an hour of Mr. Spencer’s sage and witty remarks about his life growing up in the Cranberry Wilderness, fighting with General George Patton’s Third Army during WWII, carving award-winning likenesses of the animals that he loved, and living a life of affection and reverence for living things and mountain culture.
Accompanying each of the commentaries, which run from about one minute to nearly eight minutes, are pictures from the Spencer family scrapbook and Nicholas County histories. There also is a gallery of family pictures with captions drawn from interviews with Sterling’s son, Samuel Spencer, and three remembrances of Sterling, one by Sam’s wife Ann, one by Sterling’s granddaughter Sara, and one by a cousin Larry Dietz of Augusta, WV.