The Fayette Tribune, Oak Hill, W.Va.

Local News

May 1, 2009

Book chronicles colorful life of Love

“Long before Johnny Cash tickled his country-and-western faithful with the woeful tale of a lad growing up saddled with a feminine name in ‘A Boy Named Sue,’ a coal miner’s wife decided in southern West Virginia to name her second son Shirley.”

And that begins the life of well-known Fayette County television personality and politician Shirley Love — and the first pages of a new book penned by Register-Herald reporter Mannix Porterfield.

“A Man Called Shirley” chronicles the colorful life of Love, who is known by thousands in West Virginia and around the country, as he grows up in southern West Virginia, marries the lovely Audrey Painter, lands on a local television program, then catapults into state politics.

Porterfield, a veteran newspaper writer who currently covers the Legislature for The Register-Herald, said he wrote the book after Sen. Love, D-Fayette, asked him in 2006 to put together a small booklet on Love’s life.

“After thinking it over, I advised him if I wrote a book, I wanted one that was novel length, about 200 or 300 pages, covering his life from the point of arrival to his final time in the Senate,” Porterfield said. “He agreed, and the rest, as they say, is history.”

Clearly, Porterfield had no trouble filling the pages, collecting stories from the young Love’s nights as the live host of “Saturday Nite Wrestlin’” on WOAY-TV in Oak Hill to his later days in the Legislature.

Love’s contemporaries may experience a revival of their own life memories when reading “A Man Called Shirley” as he recalls days of early local television.

“Without question, the most enjoyable part of composing this book came with his reminiscing about the old days of ‘Saturday Nite Wrestlin’,’” Porterfield said. “One reason is that I remember watching the youthful Shirley Love emcee that raucous event.

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