Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Marvin E. Wotring Sr. March 16, 1940 - Dec. 3, 2018 Crafted Rifles for Wvu's Mountaineer Mascot for 4 Decades

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Marvin E. Wotring Sr. March 16, 1940 - Dec. 3, 2018 Crafted Rifles for Wvu's Mountaineer Mascot for 4 Decades

Article excerpt

Decked out in buckskin clothes, a coonskin cap and holding a rifle, West Virginia University's mascot is unique - and likely the only one to require hunting safety courses to represent a school.

But it was the "man behind the Mountaineer" who had played a key role in the costume, spending about four decades crafting rifles from scratch.

Marvin E. Wotring Sr., of Morgantown, died Monday at the age of 78.

Mr. Wotring was born March 16, 1940, in Terra Alta, W.Va., to Bliss Raymond and Marie Catherine Hauser Wotring.

Mr. Wotring's roots in The Mountain State, and the university, ran deep. He was a 1965 graduate of WVU's Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences.

Mr. Wotring retired in 1994 as a district director for the United States Department of Agriculture. He also taught in the public school system and owned the Mountain Rifle Shop.

In 1977, the then-WVU Mountaineer mascot was having trouble with the muzzleloader he was using and found Mr. Wotring in the phone book.

"You did what you did then - you looked for someone in the Yellow Pages," said Sonja Wilson, the Mountaineer mascot adviser.

"The gun was foreign made," she recounted. "Marvin couldn't find parts to fix it. So he built a brand new rifle. Every part of it was from West Virginia."

Mr. Wotring then crafted every rifle for the university over the next 40 years, and briefly made the buckskin shirt and pants, Ms. Wilson said. He soon became an important figure to students who donned the cap and rifle. Each student would meet with him to learn how to load and use the black powder rifle. And they often returned to visit with the blacksmith.

"He was a true friend to all of them," Ms. Wilson said.

She described his patience and interest in others. "He was very humble," she said. "He had other things to do, I'm sure, but when you were there, he would stay to talk with you as long as you wanted. …

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