WELLSBURG, W.Va. – The Wellsburg Chamber of Commerce recognized Bethany as the oldest continually operating organization in Brooke County during a reception Thursday at Drover’s Inn & Tavern.

West Virginia Secretary of State Mac Warner presented Lori Weaver, Bethany’s vice president of advancement, with a plaque announcing the college’s induction as a founding member of the West Virginia Centurion Chamber of Commerce.

Alexander Campbell founded Bethany College in 1840 in what was then the Commonwealth of Virginia.

“I’ve only been a part of that tradition since 2020, so I’m not going to take credit for making it for this long,” Weaver said. “We are very proud to be a part of Brooke County, to be a part of the town of Bethany.”

Bethany was among nine organizations recognized Thursday, joining Eagle Manufacturing Co. (1897), Municipal Mutual Insurance Co. (1910), Municipal Mutual Insurance Co. of West Virginia (1910), The Brooke Review (1911); Wellsburg Chamber of Commerce (1916) in Wellsburg; Chester Lumber Co. (1903) in Weirton; James Funeral Home (1916) in Follansbee; and Chambers General Store (1917) in Bethany.

Weaver also acknowledged two Bethany alumni in attendance. Brian Taylor ’98 is president and CEO at Municipal Mutual Insurance Co., and Joan Simonetti ’74 organized Thursday’s event for the Wellsburg Chamber of Commerce.

“We are recognizing businesses who have stood the test of time,” Warner said, noting that often longstanding businesses are overshadowed by new ones. “This is a way we can pay some recognition to the organizations that have meant so much to the community and ultimately to the state.”

While the Secretary of State is best-known for handling elections, the office also registers and licenses businesses.

Warner said that “centurion” was a Roman military position that was achieved by personal strength, endurance, perseverance, and character. Those same traits are required in the businesses that have surpassed the century mark, he said.

“If you’ve been in business 100 years, you’ve weathered the first World War, you’ve weathered the Depression, the Second World War, the 60s, Vietnam, all that social upheaval, the Gulf War, and all the other challenges in between,” Warner said. “Right now, it’s COVID-19. … Those are difficult challenges, and yet here you are today being recognized for that ability to successfully transfer that ownership, that leadership, to the next generation and the next generation and so on.”

Wellsburg Chamber President Luke Diserio encouraged those in attendance to reflect on the founders of the longstanding businesses.

“What a special day this is for all the people who aren’t here who started those businesses,” he said. “That’s who we really need to look back and thank.”

Campbell served as Bethany’s first president. His mission for the college was to prepare students to become useful and responsible members of society by liberating them from superstition and ignorance, the tyranny of others, and “vulgar prejudices.”

Campbell also was one of the principal founders of the Christian Church (Disciples of Christ) and served as the first postmaster of Bethany.

Bethany remains the oldest private college in West Virginia.


Bethany College, founded in 1840, is the oldest private college in West Virginia. The Bethany experience focuses on academic excellence in the area of liberal arts and prepares students for a lifetime of work and a life of significance.