Michelle Earl 276-696-3283


June 17, 2013

Interstate 81 road naming ceremony held today
Interstat 81 between Bristol and Christiansburg named "Congressman William C. Wampler, Sr. Memorial Highway"

BRISTOL - The Virginia Department of Transportation (VDOT), local officials and family of William C. “Bill” Wampler held a ceremony today at the Virginia Welcome Center in Bristol to rename a section of Interstate 81 in southwestern Virginia “Congressman William Wampler, Sr., Memorial Highway.”

The section of Interstate 81 being renamed Congressman William Wampler, Sr. Memorial Highway is from the Tennessee/Virginia state line to mile marker 118 in Christiansburg. 

Signs will be placed at multiple locations northbound and southbound along Interstate 81.

Wampler was born in Pennington Gap, Virginia, on April 21, 1926, to John S. Wampler and Lillian Wolfe Wampler.  He attended Bristol Virginia public schools, where his classmates elected him president of his class each of his four years at Virginia High School.

On May 21, 1943, at age seventeen, Wampler enlisted in the United States Navy.  He served as a seaman for twenty-seven months until discharged on September 29, 1945; he was then a member of the Naval Reserve, V-6.  

He resumed his education, graduating from Virginia Polytechnic Institute in 1948, and then studied law at the University of Virginia from 1948-1950.  Wampler was a reporter and copy editor for the Bristol Herald Courier and the Virginia-Tennessean from 1950-1952.  He also worked as a reporter and editorial writer for the Big Stone Gap Post in 1951.

Wampler was president of the Young Republican Federation of Virginia in 1950 and served as keynote speaker and permanent chairman of the 9th District Republican convention the same year.  He was elected as a Republican to the 83rd Congress.  He went to work for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission in 1955 upon an unsuccessful candidacy for re-election.  

Due to his father’s poor health, Wampler returned to Bristol to work for the family business, Wampler Brothers Furniture Company, as vice president and general manager from 1957-1960, and the vice-president and general manager of Wampler Brothers Carpet Company from 1961-1966.

Wampler was later elected to the 90th and to the seven succeeding Congresses (January 3, 1967-January 3, 1983).  He was ranking Republican member on the House Agriculture Committee, and he also served on the Committee on Aging and the Committee on Committees.  Fondly known as “The Bald Eagle of the Cumberlands,” he considered it a great privilege to serve the people of the “Fighting Ninth” Congressional District for eighteen years.

He was appointed by then-Governor John Dalton to the Board of Visitors of Virginia Tech from 1978-1982.  He was rewarded with the Distinguished Alumni Service Award by the Virginia Tech Alumni Association in 1980.  He also served on the Board of Visitors of Emory and Henry College.  He received an honorary doctorate degree from Lincoln Memorial University.  

After his congressional career, Wampler worked in the insurance and coal businesses before his retirement.  He also served as a member of the Bristol Virginia Utilities Board and the Bristol Redevelopment and Housing Authority.  

Wampler passed away on May 23, 2012, at his home in Bristol, Virginia, after a lengthy illness.

He is survived by his wife, Lee McCall Wampler, and his children, Barbara W. Walling and husband Challen of Bristol, Virginia; William Wampler, Jr., and wife Mary of Bristol and Martinsville, Virginia; Katherine F. Boyet and husband Bo of Marietta, Georgia; and David Frackelton and wife Jackie of Salem, Virginia.



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Page last modified: June 17, 2013