By Laurence I. Barrett, Washington Post
Ken Hechler, an urbane historian who carpetbagged his way into West Virginia’s gritty politics, where he battled destructive coal-industry practices, unsafe mining conditions and felonious county officials, died Dec. 10 at his home in Romney, W.Va. He was 102.
The cause was a stroke, his wife, Carol Kitzmiller, said.
During 18 years as a Democratic congressman, 16 more as West Virginia secretary of state and a final act as a do-gooder without portfolio, Dr. Hechler never tired of crusades.
“I used to be an agitator, then an activist,” he wrote at age 94, in 2009. “Now I am a hellraiser.” This was soon after he was arrested while protesting mountaintop removal, the mining method environmentalists hate most.