Ken Hechler Remembered for His Work in Mine Safety

Dec 11, 2016

Credit e-wv, The West Virginia Encyclopedia online. / WV Humanities Council

Longtime West Virginia Congressman, Secretary of State, and World War II veteran, Ken Hechler has died at the age of 102. He was known nationwide for his work in improving coal mine health and safety, among many other accomplishments.

Ken Hechler served in Congress from 1959 to 1977 and played a key role in the passage of the federal Coal Mine Health and Safety Act, comprehensive legislation that established federal ventilation requirements for underground mines.

Hechler also fought to limit the environmental effects of strip mining and preserve the New River.

Hechler was a combat historian during World War II and earned the bronze star and five battle stars. He was a professor at Marshall University, special assistant to President Harry Truman, and was the only congressman to march with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in Selma, Alabama, in support of voting equality.

West Virginia Public Broadcasting produced a documentary in 2008 on Hechler’s life. That documentary is available here.