James H. Harless

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Buck Harless
Born(1919-10-14)October 14, 1919
DiedJanuary 1, 2014(2014-01-01) (aged 94)
Occupationcoal miner, timber operator, philanthropist
(m. ??–2014; his death)
June Montgomery
(m.1939–1999; her death)
ChildrenLarry Joe (deceased), Judy

James Howard "Buck" Harless (October 14, 1919 – January 1, 2014) was an American coal and timber operator.[1]

Early life[edit]

Harless was born in Taplin, West Virginia in 1919.[2] His hometown was Gilbert, in Mingo County, West Virginia.

After graduation from Gilbert High School, he worked as a miner for several years at Red Jacket Coal Co. In 1947 he gave up mining to become a part-owner and manager of a Gilbert saw-mill.[3]

Business interests[edit]

Harless grew the Gilbert Lumber Company [4] into the multimillion-dollar International Industries Inc conglomerate, of which in 1947 he was the founder. At the time of his death he was the President and CEO of International Industries, which had proceeds exceeding $700 million a year.[5] International Industries, Inc. is based primarily in natural resources such as coal mining and timber, but which also include the manufacturing, hotel and real estate industries.[6] It conducted business from three divisions including International Resources, Inc. (coal mining and marketing company L&K Coal), Gilco Lumber (lumber production and distribution), Inc., and Benson International, Inc. (manufacturing of trailers and truck bodies) and had operations in five states serving domestic and international customers.

Harless has been on the Massey Energy Board of Directors serving up to 2005 as the Chairman of the Public and Environmental Policy Committee.


Harless died, surrounded by his family, after a brief illness on January 1, 2014 at his home in Gilbert, West Virginia. He was 94.[7]

Awards and recognitions[edit]

Harless was inducted into the West Virginia Coal Hall of Fame. The West Virginia Mining and Reclamation Association named him the Coal Man of the Year in 1976.[4] In 1983, the Charleston Sunday Gazette and Mail named Harless West Virginia's Man of the Year. In 2001 he was named to the West Virginia Business Hall of Fame.[8]

Political action[edit]


James "Buck" Harless made contributions to West Virginia State Senate candidates.[9]



"You did everything you could to elect a Republican president," William Raney, director of the West Virginia Coal Association told a group of industry executives in May 2001, did not submit the Kyoto global warming protocols for Senate ratification. "You are already seeing in his actions the payback, if you will, his gratitude for what we did.".[10]

Harless was appointed by President Bush to the United States Air Force Academy Board of Visitors.

In 2004 he was President George W. Bush-Campaign Organization, West Virginia State Finance Chair.[11]

Also James "Buck" Harless, introduced Bush to the crowd at the West Virginia Coal Association annual meeting on July 31, 2008.[12]

See also[edit]


  • Buck: A Life Sketch of James H. Harless by Ruel E. Foster (Author), Robert B. Conner (Author), ISBN 978-0-937058-30-5, Publisher: West Virginia University Press - 1992-06, 166 Pages.

External links[edit]