The lady who raised the flag
Longtime Berkeley Springs resident Opal Heare was remembered for her interest in current events, local heritage and county politics during a plaque-dedication ceremony at the Morgan County Courthouse on Saturday, January 28.
Heare’s family gathered to remember her, and to revisit the site of their family home, which was sold to the county in 1989.
“Her house was a place of refuge for the Heare family and the Willard family. Many generations lived on this street,” said Heare’s grandson, Edgar Willard, III.
At the time of the sale, Heare’s daughters stipulated that any building erected on the site should be named for their mother.
To make good on the promise, county officials commissioned a plaque to designate a portion of the county building as the Heare Courthouse Annex.
Heare’s home stood just east of where the plaque hangs.
Former commissioner and current Family Law Judge Glen Stotler said officials tried unsuccessfully to work the Heare home into an expansion of the former Morgan County Library, which once stood on Fairfax Street as well.
Attendees to the ceremony recalled Heare sitting on her porch nearly every day, talking with residents passing by on their way to the courthouse or post office, which also stood on that block.
She was also well known for regularly raising the American flag on the Fairfax Green, just across from her home.
The plaque for her reads:
Opal Heare was a citizen-patriot of the first order and a beloved fixture in Berkeley Springs for nearly 90 years, as was her husband Gracen. Opal held “court” on her front porch on Fairfax Street, the site of this courthouse annex, solving the world’s problems with all who passed by. Opal received the State Seal in 1990 and the Patriotic Citizen’s Award for her unsolicited service to the community. For many years, she demonstrated her love for her country and hometown by her faithful daily display of our national flag on the War Memorial.