VIENNA, W.Va. (WTAP) - The Mid-Ohio Valley lost an important historian on Sunday. Dr. Philip Sturm, 77, died unexpectedly in Parkersburg.
Wednesday, his family and friends remembered him.
“He was great. He had written four books on West Virginia. He was working on his fifth book,” said Leslie Sturm, Philip's daughter. “He loved it. He loved this state so much.”
It wasn’t just state history Sturm knew.
“One of the few people I’ve been around with that kind of pedigree, to be a doctor in history and Wood County was where he was centered. It wasn’t the Revolutionary War, it wasn’t the Civil War, it wasn’t other things. It was Wood County,” said Marty Seufer, Wood County administrator. “I think the name of the book he wrote for the bicentennial, ‘A River to Cross’ is called the bicentennial history of Wood County, not bicentennial history, the bicentennial history.”
On top of recording history, Sturm taught it at Ohio Valley University for decades. He even raised his daughters there for a time.
“When I was younger. Me and my sister lived on the campus here. They were dorm parents,” said Leslie Sturm. “He took us, the college people on history trips every year, twice a year. And when we were driving to D.C. or North Carolina or anywhere that was historical, he would get up on the bus with us and surf. I still remember that. That was my dad. That’s who he was. He was funny and great.”
Sturm was a significant part of OVU history before he taught.
“The first student to apply, the first student to enroll, and I believe the first student to graduate. So, he was really the first student at Ohio Valley University when it opened in 1960.
He earned many accolades for his work as a teacher and a historian.
“He was named the 2000 professor of the year for West Virginia,” said Leslie Sturm. “Last year he became a History Hero for West Virginia.”
Friends and family remember Dr. Sturm for his personality, his love for Wood County and West Virginia, and his work.
“We always say though in genealogy or history you know, you’re here ‘til you become one of the people they’re going to write about,” said Jim Miracle, Dr. Sturm’s friend and fellow historian.