Ours was 1st woman elected commissioner
Former Morgan County Commissioner Marjorie Ours was the first woman to be elected County Commissioner.
Ours was originally appointed as County Commissioner in February, 1980 to finish the unexpired term of County Commissioner William Clark (not the current county administrator). She ran for the seat in the regular election on November 10, 1980 and won.
Ours was sworn into office in January, 1981 and served until December 31, 1986. She served with County Commissioners J. Brown Norton and Nelson Kesecker and later Commissioner Glen Stotler.
Carrie Mechem was also appointed County Commissioner to serve out her husband Gladstone Mechem's unfinished term as Morgan County Commissioner. Carrie Mechem served as County Commissioner from February 2, 1973 until December 5, 1973.
Ours believed that another woman was also appointed to serve out her husband's unfinished term as County Commissioner in the 1930s or 1940s, but The Morgan Messenger has been unable to confirm this.
Daughter of assessor/clerk
Ours is the daughter of the late Lola (Waugh) Ambrose and former County Assessor and County Clerk Cecil R. Ambrose. Ambrose served 16 years as assessor and 16 years as county clerk. He was also a historian.
Ours said that she grew up around the courthouse and politics so it was natural for her to get involved in county government. Ours served 18 years
as Deputy County Clerk. She also worked in the Sheriff's Department and the County Assessor's Office and was a notary public.
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Ours graduated from Berkeley Springs High School in 1940. She married Eston R. Ours, who worked for U.S. Silica. She started working in the county clerk's office in 1956.
Election, Commission years
Ours went door-to-door asking residents for their vote in the November, 1980 election when she ran against John Goodman. Ours remembered unknowingly crossing the line into Hampshire County while on the campaign trail. One gentleman finally told her he'd vote for her except that he lived in the wrong county.
Ours ran for office on the platform of getting the Morgan County Senior Center finished. The county had begun to work on acquiring grants in 1979 to remodel the building where the senior center is now located, she said.
Completing the senior center, putting in the ball field on U.S. Route 522 and getting the Humane Society shelter established were the three major accomplishments of the County Commission during her years of service, said Ours. Ours retired as County Commissioner in 1986 to take care of her ailing parents.
Her motto then was "Don't let a day pass without a smile on your face, a song in your heart and a friendly word to those you meet." It is still Ours' motto today.
Enjoyed her time in office
Ours really enjoyed her years as County Commissioner and keeping up with what was going on. She loved meeting people and talking with them.
"I don't think I ever met a stranger," said Ours.
Ours thought that the problems counties face now are a lot bigger than when she was a commissioner. Morgan County is growing by leaps and bounds, she said.
"You have to have more revenue for everything," said Ours.
Big issues included the jails, schools and fire departments, said Ours. Ours said she always liked budget time.
"Everyone was always wanting an increase in their salary," she said.
Ours recalled her commissioner's salary was $10,000 the last three years that she was in office.
She didn't think that it was different for her being a woman commissioner.
"I always felt I was an equal," said Ours.
Women in action
Ours shared a Martinsburg Journal article from May, 1986 called "The Women of Morgan County" in which she and other county women who were making a difference were featured. Other women included in the article were Jeanne Mozier, Connie Perry, Margaret Gordon, Beth (Peters) Curtin, Helena Moser, Toni Leslie, Lois Metzger and Nancy Pentoney.
In 1980, Ours was a member of the Shenandoah Council No. 65, the Daughter of America, the Berkeley County Association for Handicapped Citizens, the Morgan County Republican Club and the Wesley Chapel Methodist Church.
She was also on the Mental Health Center board of directors, the Commission of Aging Advisory Board, the Extension Service Committee and the Warm Springs Watershed Committee.
"I always had my hands full of something," said Ours.
She remembered inspecting the dams and looking up all the orphan roads as commissioner.
"I loved it," she said.
Her hobbies then were bowling, hunting and ceramics. Ours received an Art of Firing Certificate and worked for local craftswoman Jean Nichols firing her kilns. Ours had a few ceramics pieces that won awards in local fairs.
Ours recalled working at the kiln the night she won the 1980 election. She kept track of the election results on a tablet as people called her with each precinct's count. Ours still has the paper with the count.
Her family is her life
Ours, who is 84, said she's "footloose and fancy free" now. She spends a lot of time with family and likes bingo.
"My family is my life," she said.
Ours has two children, her son Riley Ours and her daughter Drucilla Harvey, seven grandchildren and eight grandchildren age 21 to one year old. Ours said her son still has her County Commissioner nameplate.
Ours' husband Eston Ours passed away in 1999. Ours and her late husband cared for foster children in their home for four years while their children were growing up.
The couple at one time had around 50 cats. Her husband kept the cats in a trailer that he furnished and heated at Ours Salvage Yard to rescue the cats from the cold. She would bottle feed the cats at home if they were sick and take them to the vet. Ours and her husband were married for 60 years.
"It's been a good life," said Ours.
Since the time she served as a County Commissioner, Ours has felt that more women should participate in county government. More women do now, she said.
Ours noted that County Commissioner Brenda Hutchinson was a distant relation through Hutchinson's husband's family. Ours was very proud that Hutchinson was elected.
Other women county officials
County Clerk Debra Kesecker was the first woman to be elected to the office of county clerk. Other women officials serving in Morgan County include Circuit Clerk Kim Jackson and Prosecuting Attorney Debra McLaughlin.