Philip Eugene Cline, 90, of Huntington, W.Va. and Radford, died at home with family present Jan. 6, 2024, from complications due to a stroke 2.5 years before.
Born in Stidham (Martin County), Ky., to Ovie and Jesse Cline, he was the oldest of six children. Cline graduated Oceana High School, Oceana, W.Va. Despite growing up in humble circumstances, with his father working as a coal miner and both parents were schoolteachers, he valued education and graduated from Marshall University with a B.S. in accounting in 1955 and an M.A. in political science in 1962. He firmly believed that you are to honor thy father and mother and you would live long and prosper, and that he did!
By foot, hitchhiking and bus, Cline made his way to Marshall College (now University), where he lent his talents to Omicron Delta Kappa, Baptist Youth Fellowship Work, and Sigma Phi Epsilon. His passion for student government, which had begun in high school, continued at Marshall, where he served throughout his four years and ultimately became the student body president.
Cline had a remarkable career, starting at J.H. Fletcher Co. in 1955 and eventually becoming the executive vice-president and board member. He was past president and member of the Board of Directors of Broughton Foods Co. He served on the board of directors for several other businesses, including Southern Belle Dairy Inc., Portec Rail Products Co., the Logan Corp., Champion Industries Inc., US Chamber of Commerce, Cabell County Chapter of the American Red Cross, and the YMCA. He served on the United Way board of directors and co-established the United Way of the River Cities Foundation. He was a member of the Huntington Rotary Club, and was involved with the Huntington Museum of Art, Marshall Artists Series, West Virginia Humanities Foundation, Southwestern Community Action Council and many others.
Cline was a present member and past chairman of the Huntington Area Chamber of Commerce and the West Virginia Chamber of Commerce. In 2011, the WV Chamber inducted him into its Hall of Fame. Steve Roberts, president of the West Virginia State Chamber of Commerce stated “Cline’s influence reached national heights, as seen in his service on the board of directors for the US Chamber of Commerce. He also helped lead the successful national effort to pass Gorton/Rockefeller Product Liability Act.”
Cline maintained a strong connection with Marshall University, serving as a past chairman of the Marshall Institutional Board of Advisors, and past president of the Marshall Foundation and the Marshall Alumni Association. He was a life member of the Big Green Club and received numerous alumni awards. He made significant contributions to the university, establishing the Ovie and Jesse Cline Museum in the One-Room School House and creating the Ovie and Jesse John Marshall Scholarship in honor of his parents. Cline was recognized for his philanthropic endeavors, privately funding the college tuition of numerous deserving students.
Furthermore, Cline had a deep commitment to health care and community service. He served on the boards of Cabell Huntington Hospital, West Virginia Alliance for Hospital Trustees, and the Huntington Pediatric Clinic. He was involved with American Red Cross and played crucial role in establishing the Phil Cline YMCA, a facility dedicated to providing free access to recreational activities for young people and senior citizens.
In 1987, Cline was named to the Greater Huntington Wall of Fame, and in 1988 the Huntington Herald-Dispatch selected him as its “Citizen of the Year.”
From his college days until his death, Cline was a stalwart member of the Fifth Avenue Baptist Church. In 1955, he was the West Virginia youth representative to the Baptist World Congress. For many years, he looked forward to April when he taught Sunday School for the month. As a Baptist, Cline also had a special relationship with faith-based Alderson-Broaddus College. He generously contributed as a donor, received an honorary doctorate degree, and served as a dedicated member of the college’s board. In 2011, he even took on the role of interim president.
Cline attributed his perseverance and success to his strong faith and his personal relationship with his Lord, Savior and Friend, Jesus Christ. He met his late wife and the mother of his children, Ruth, at Camp Cowen, a Baptist young adult retreat. He was an active member of Fifth Avenue Baptist Church serving on various committees and involved with his beloved FAB Sunday School class for over 63 years. He prayed daily and placed his trust in his Lord with every decision he made.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Ovie and Jesse Cline, his five siblings Cecil Gobel Cline (Sprout), Anne Cline Gillum (Tom), Mary Cline Wilson (Brad), Alice Cline Hobbs (Bernie), Grover Cleveland Cline (Nancy), and his life partner and gravesite resting mate, Ruth Layne Cline.
Survivors include his three amazing children, two sons-in-law, two grand-children, Sandra Cline Ramsey and her husband, Steve, of Jacksonville, Fla.; Philip Andrew “Andy” Cline of Lantana, Fla.; and Holly Leeann Cline and her husband, Sid Miller of Radford; her two daughters, Ruth Layne Cline “Laney” and Hollybrook Coulter Cline, his grandchildren who he loved more than life; nieces and nephews and their spouses; cousins and many friends. Special friends include Roberta Johnson, Dr. Friday Simpson, Steve and Ann Roberts, Marshall Reynolds, Walt Bolen, Allen Reasons, Rick Stout, Becky King-Harris, Jim Fletcher, Chris Michael, Kay Ransbottom, Jane Fotos, Pat Mann and all his church lady friends.
Cline moved to Radford after his stroke. He enjoyed the extra time with his grandchildren, watching their progression into adulthood. He became a donor of Radford University and was recognized by the Department of Design for his contributions. He was so excited to learn that his youngest granddaughter would be attending RU in the fall of 2024.
He was a father, grandfather (Papaw), accountant, humanitarian, philanthropist, leader, visionary, world traveler and a farmer. His farm, The Hollybrook Farm, began with a cabin that he built with friends on the weekend and grew into a working dairy and beef cattle farm. Cline hosted many family reunions and church functions in the summer at his farm in Gallia County, OH. In 1994, his farm received the Ohio Department of Natural Resources Forest Stewardship award. He loved his farm and his family and any time he could combine the two, he did so with joy. His family will miss him dearly.
His legacy as a dedicated advocate for education will be forever remembered through the establishment of a scholarship in his name. In lieu of flowers, the family requests that you consider donating to the Philip E. Cline Scholarship at Radford University. You may send your gift to the Radford University Foundation, PO Box 6893, Radford, VA 24142. Please include the scholarship name on the memo line of your check.
Friends may call on Friday, Jan. 26 from 5-7:30 p.m. at Chapman’s Mortuary, Huntington, W.Va. Funeral services will be conducted at 11 a.m. on Saturday, Jan. 27, 2024, at Fifth Avenue Baptist Church with Rev. Dr. Jana Stoner officiating. Graveside family service will take place on Sunday, Jan. 28 at Tyler Mountain Memory Gardens, next to his life partner’s final resting space, in Cross Lanes, W.Va.
Condolences may be sent to the family at www.chapmans-mortuary.com.