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Ann Brotherton, WVPB Founder and Devoted Supporter, Dies at 90

WVPB archives
WVPB supporter Ann Brotherton

If you are listening right now across our network, or reading our stories online. If you are a sustainer or supporter of public broadcasting in West Virginia, and feel like it adds value to your community and state -- you have Ann Brotherton to thank. 

Brotherton, who is credited with helping to usher in what is now known as West Virginia Public Broadcasting, passed away Monday, Sept. 7 at the Arthur B. Hodges Center in Charleston at age 90, leaving behind decades of service and devotion to her family, her community and public media.  

“There’s been no stronger advocate for West Virginia Public Broadcasting than Ann Brotherton,” said West Virginia Educational Broadcasting Authority board chairman Bill File, who praised her as a mentor when he first joined WVPB in the early 90s. 

Ann Jourdan Caskey Brotherton was born Oct. 29, 1929 in Louisville, Kentucky. She received her bachelor’s degree in 1948 from Randolph-Macon Women’s College and her master’s degree in from Duke University in 1950. She went on to have a long career as a stockbroker and financial adviser with Prudential Securities in Charleston. 

After living part of her early life in Wichita Falls, Texas, she relocated to Charleston after her June 17, 1950 marriage to William Thurlow Brotherton Jr. The couple, who met while in college, had three children, Elizabeth, Laura and William III. Her husband launched a successful legal and political career, serving as a legislator and rising to a position on the state Supreme Court as justice.

Brotherton, while managing a successful career in finance and serving in multiple roles as a volunteer, found her passion in education through public media. According to friends, she leveraged the couple’s vast social and political connections to move forward legislation that would establish what is now the Educational Broadcasting Authority.  

It was her belief, said her friend Cynthia Geary, a foundation board member and former chair of the EBA board, “that education and information were so important in the lives of every American and West Virginian.” 

Noted Geary: “West Virginia Public Broadcasting would not exist without her work. She was the midwife here. She helped birth it and she was never away from it, for much of her life.” 

Brotherton was also a gifted networker who shared her passion and “who saw this as a big tent,” said Geary. “She believed that WVPB could benefit from a wide variety of people with many talents, and backgrounds, and points of view.” 

Her influence took many forms. Before she joined the EBA board, she was a community liaison, working to let others know the value of public media. “She was always promoting this,” said Geary. “She was a stockbroker. That was her career. And she brought that knowledge in helping WVPB manage its finances. She was one of those people who not only had people skills but a strong expertise in finance that brought depths of understanding to WVPB.” 

Rita Ray, who served as executive director of WVPB from 1994-2007, described Brotherton as the heart and soul of the organization – someone who started as a volunteer with vision who harnessed the collective power of multiple television and radio stations to come together under one stronger umbrella. 

“She was smart, savvy, and witty with an incredible memory. Her mind was acute, even in her advanced years,” Ray said. “She was also a very determined and tough leader. She represented all of the values that public broadcasting has to offer.” 

Added Ray: “I really believe that WVPB, which has a very strong brand and is effective and efficient as an organization, would not exist if we had not had Ann Brotherton.” 

Funeral services, which will be conducted outdoors, will be held Oct. 10, 2020 at 10 a.m.,at St. Matthew's Church, where Brotherton was an active parishioner, according to her obituary published in the Charleston Gazette-Mail.

Brotherton’s family has asked that in lieu of flowers, friends may make donations to West Virginia Public Broadcasting, 600 Capitol St, Charleston, WV, 25301, and/or Hospice Care, 1606 Kanawha Blvd West, Charleston, WV, 25387. They are also receiving condolences online at:  www.barlowbonsall.com

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