• 140th International Peace Meditation “The Conrad Motel — a Legacy of Love”

    “The Conrad Motel — a Legacy of Love”

    Tribute to a Family-Owned Business


    August 3, 2008 — Tuesday, July 2, 2008, marked a new chapter not only in the lives of the Hallie and Leland Conrad descendants, but also for Glenville State College students and staff. A new chapter implies previous chapters, and from these earlier times emanate stories of family bonds, collaborative efforts, and success measured primarily by lives touched. This is a tribute to all who ever worked there, ate there, slept there, celebrated the annual Folk Festival there, and those who were touched by the magnanimous dedication of all of the family members who grew up in its midst.

    If you’ve ever traveled in Central West Virginia, you are probably familiar with two landmarks: Glenville State College (formerly Glenville State Teachers College) and the Conrad Restaurant and Motel. While July 2 marked the sale and transfer of property of the Conrad Motel located at 100 Conrad Court to Glenville State College, it also transfered a beautiful and proud legacy many will remember and treasure. This story, from only one perspective, is dedicated to the people who made up the “community”. As the article in the Glenville Democrat upon the 60th anniversary of the Conrad business said, we, the entire family, are grateful for the opportunity to serve.

    Like my cousins, I was born into the Conrad business. My cousin Jack Conrad, Jr. and I were pictured on its sidewalk as babies with our proud parents, Madelyn Conrad Kidd (Bill), my mother; and Hunter Jackson Conrad (Jo), my uncle. Stephanie Conrad arrived about two years later, followed in a few years by her brother Charlie. Hallie and Leland Conrad, (known to all as “Mom and Pop Conrad”), our grandparents, had begun the business when they were very young. Married when Pop was 18 and Mom was 16, they left the farm not long after to start a business and raise a family. When their original plans didn’t work out, they decided to start a restaurant. Many years later, since I was fortunate to spend my summers there, I would hear stories from Mom Conrad about the business. I always relish the one where she “sent up the street for a piece of pie”, analyzed the ingredients, and made graham cracker pie their specialty during all of their years in the restaurant business. What courage!

    Glenville State College website shows the picture of young Madelyn and “Jack” standing in front of the original candy cabinets. Mother told me that she started cleaning tables as soon as her nose reached the top of the counter. She and her brother Jack grew up in the business which expanded to include a motel and taxi service. I remember Pop with a few taxis and drivers, and later seeing my cousins Jack and Charlie “hang” with Pop and learn the business. Charlie tells stories of parking cars on the motel lot during the Folk Festival. We all learned about business at an early age.

    Christmas was always celebrated in the Conrad Restaurant. Mom and Pop would first serve the residents staying in the hotel over the holidays, and then, about 1:00 p.m., lock the doors for a family Christmas. It was wonderful and included many relatives from a distance.

    In 1965, the Conrad Motel that exists today was built. The 40-unit structure was home away from home to many, and even included Eleanor Roosevelt. But the small town atmosphere and attention to comfort remains today. Jack Conrad, now in his 80’s, who managed the business after an admirable career in education, still lives in the motel he and Madelyn, my mother, inherited after the deaths of their parents. A born manager, his public relations skills are known throughout the area. We are both excited that the College has chosen to develop a motel management course for their students.

    The family has long valued education, and its relationship with Glenville State College. Madelyn Conrad graduated from there in only three years Magna Cum Laude. In addition, she was Homecoming Princess the first two years, and Queen the third. It was there she met my dad, William M. Kidd, a student, who, after serving as a Naval pilot in World War II, went to West Virginia University Law School, and in 1980 became a U.S. District Judge, first in Bluefield, and then in Clarksburg, West Virginia. Dad was consulted at times regarding the motel, while Mother continued doing all of the bookkeeping in addition to teaching in Braxton County High Schools for many years. She and Jack jointly owned the motel until her passing on Nov. 9, 1998.

    Mother and I would also work every Saturday in the restaurant as well as for special occasions and banquets such as when the Lions Club met there. It was there I became interested in Lions, and later went on not only to serve them in the restaurant, but to serve with them as the first woman to become a member in the Albany area of New York State after being sponsored by Past International Director, deceased, James Kent.

    Hunter “Jack” Conrad graduated from Glenville State College, and was a basketball star whose records still attest to his greatness. Still active with the college, he participates in in a variety of alumni events. However, his greatness did not stop there, as he received the Purple Heart for being wounded on Normandy Beach in service to his country.

    As family, we have our individual memories, and those who work or worked there were each a treasure to the family. So many employees over the years became extended family. This is especially true of Thelma Norman. Thelma’s devotion over the years has been to her job, but even more is a reflection of the way she lives her life. Not only does she know every aspect of managing the motel, but she has been a loyal employee of, and devoted friend to, the Conrad and Kidd families.

    Two of my special memories of summers in Glenville were of attending summer school at the college, and studying piano. Student teachers would receive their credits by teaching in the summers. I distinctly remember the eighth grade English curriculum that I had in the summer prior to going into Eighth Grade in Sutton High School. Perhaps that’s where I first realized my love for English language arts, and later, my love of writing both poetry and prose.

    Later I studied piano with Miss Bertha Olsen. I was blessed by being allowed to play the grand piano in her studio any time she wasn’t using it. I practiced for hours daily during my summers there in preparation for a degree in Piano from West Virginia University which allowed me to return to GSC, and receive credit for a full piano recital my Junior year. This was another example of the wonderful collaboration we shared.

    Dr. Peter Barr, President of Glenville State College, and my uncle, Jack Conrad, made the business deal for the sale of the motel over conversations at Church. I received frequent calls regarding the negotiations of the sale of the motel we jointly owned. I still love the informal style, trust, and mutual admiration that continues. It seems like the perfect legacy–a family loving and working together, and attending Glenville State College which on July 2, made the Conrad Motel part of it’s greater home to the thousands of students who pass through those hallowed halls. “Do I feel sad that the family motel is gone?”, I’m asked. No. I feel grateful that a wonderful legacy of collaboration and mutual respect for over 80 years continues.

    This Meditation is dedicated to all of the collaboration, and sense of unity, that occurs when people care about and respect one another. May we each take from this legacy a sense of the power of what can be accomplished through Love.


    Sue (Suzie) Kidd Shipe, Ph.D.
    Executive Director
    For those readers who knew Madelyn Conrad Kidd, I attach the following poem I wrote for her on Nov. 9, 1998, and shared at her Memorial Service at West Vriginia University Ruby Memorial Hospital Chapel.

    “The Smile of an Angel”

    A long time ago in a place long forgot
    A Plan was designed for our lives
    And with wisdom and love to guide us alway
    We were sent to reveal God’s love.

    A long time ago the Plan was designed
    By Those who knew our need
    To grow and evolve in preparation to serve
    To take on our destiny.

    In a place long ago the Plan was developed
    That would bring my Mother and me
    To a place where we could live out that design
    The design we call destiny.

    She did her part, held me close to her heart
    A better love was never designed
    Together we grew, God’s love we knew
    ‘Til time brought an end to that Plan.

    Now she’s gone on alone, yet never can be
    For with God’s love we’re never alone
    She’s special to me, she always will be
    For I’ll always remember the Plan.

    To grow and develop in God’s love each day
    Prepares us to serve humankind
    With the smile of an angel she’s gone on, and yet
    This Angel will e’er be with me.

    Now she guides from afar, I’m never alone
    Her presence will always be near
    The smile of an Angel, my Mother dear
    Is the light in the darkness I see.

    That smile will be with me ‘till we meet again
    She’ll be easy to find ‘mong the rest
    For the smile of an Angel is never forgot
    And we’ll love through eternity.

    Her smile has brought hope to those who’d forgot
    How important life’s endings can be
    And we’ll never forget her courage and strength
    My Mom, an Angel to me.

    So thanks be to God for Angels like her
    In our midst, who lead us each day
    And thanks be to God for the light of her smile
    She’ll be always an Angel to me.


    Please join us in prayer/meditation during the 24 hours of Sunday, August 3, and again the first Sunday of every month. The International Institute for Human Empowerment, Inc. is in our 12th year of continuous International Peace Meditations. Forward our Meditation to all in your address book; make copies for your religious and spiritual brochures and bulletins.

    Important Dates to Remember:

    September 11, Annually     International Unity Day

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    Sue Kidd Shipe, Executive Director
    International Institute For Human Empowerment, Inc.
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    Albany, New York  12203   USA
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