Original Stockholders

These were the original stockholders of the James Madison Association who put WJMA AM on the air in September of 1949. Most were "Main Street" businessmen...there were no women in the original ownership group, or ever as best we can tell. A few were area residents who saw a local radio station as a means to improving the community.

The information on this page comes from interviews with Welford Sherman and Ed Sparks, information in the Orange Review, from Joseph Rowe's book Orange's Greatest Generation, and from members of the WJMA Alumni Yahoo email group. Corrections and additional information should be sent to the webmaster.

Frederick L. Allman. Put WSVA AM on the air in Harrisonburg in 1935. In 1946 he put WSVA FM on the air. WSVA TV followed in 1953. Allman was also involved with radio stations in Florida. While passing through Orange in 1947 he spotted a large antenna on the W. A. Sherman building and stopped in to investigate. The antenna had been installed by Welford Sherman to pull in television programs from Richmond and Washington in the very early days of television broadcasting. Allman raised the idea of a local radio station with Welford Sherman. Image contributed by radioyears.com
C. Emerson Altman. Owned Altman Equipment Company and a radio repair shop in Orange that later became Altman Furniture. Image contributed by John Altman.
Norman C. Bailey. Ran Merchants Grocery in the building on Church Street where W. A. Sherman Company is located today. In 1949 he was beginning his fourth term in the Virginia General Assembly representing Orange and Madison Counties. Merchants Grocery and Peoples Grocery merged. The business is now located in Culpeper. Image from the Orange Review.
Charles Robert "Bobby" Butler. Ran a lumber planeing mill and lumber yard on Byrd Street started by his father. Bobby Bulter added a concrete plant to the business on Byrd Street. This is a 1974 photo from the Orange Review.
  Zed William Chewning Jr. Known as "Zip". Ran the hosiery plant on Blue Ridge Drive in Orange. That building was later occupied by Clarostat, Blue Bell, R&J Slots, and most recently by the Town of Orange Police Department.
  Hugh C. Clark. Ran Orange Produce Company.
  C. Cosby Cluff. Began business as a roofer. The business later expanded to HVAC and plumbing. Fowler HVAC is in the Cluff location today.
Frank L. Colvin. Started Colvin Motor Lines. The business is still in operation providing commercial trucking services in the Virginia, DC and Maryland area. Today the business is still in the Colvin family being run by Jimmy and Robbie Colvin. Image contributed by Jimmy Colvin.
Craun Brothers. "Mutt" and "Jiggs" Craun, the Craun brothers, ran a Texaco service station on Caroline Street where Earl's Glass Shop is located today. Jiggs pictured. Image from the Orange Review.
Henry C. DeJarnette. Attorney in 1949. During World War II he served four years in the China-India sector. Later served as Orange Clerk of the Court. Image from the Orange Review.
  Watt J. Dunnington. New York City lawyer who spent time at "Montebello" on the old Rapidan Road.
William B. "Buck" Early. Director of the National Bank of Orange and Peoples National Bank. In later years he owned or was part of various businesses including Early's Used Cars in Orange. Early's Used Cars is now Crown Auto. Image from the Orange Review.
  C. C. Gill & Sons. Charles Gill ran Gill Hardware on Main Street.
J. Haywood Gillum. President and Manager of Peoples Grocery on Byrd Street and a Vice-President of the National Bank of Orange. In 1949 he was in his first term as Mayor of Orange. In later years Merchants Grocery and Peoples merged. The business is today located in Culpeper. Image from the Orange Review.
  Otis Broadus Jones. Ran Rapidan Milling Company at Rapidan.
Kentucky Flooring Company. Owned and operated by Claiborne "China" Carter. He came to Orange in the 1930s to sort out the finances of Kentucky Flooring and ended up buying the business. Today the American Woodmark Company occupies the Kentucky Flooring location. Image from the Orange Review.
  Mason Insurance Agency. Harry C. Mason.
Woodbury S. Ober. He worked in banking in Chicago during the 1930s later moving to March McLennan a large insurance company based in Chicago. In 1940 he joined the Naval Reserve. In December of 1941 he was stationed at the Panama Canal. After the war he retired to Orange, Va were he was involved with many local activities. He developed the Spicers Mill residential area and was actively involved with Grymes School at its current location on Spicers Mill Road. He bought out the other original WJMA stock holders in late 1956 and ran the station until 1958 when it merged with WINA in Charlottesville. Image contributed by the Ober family.
  Pitts Madison Theater. Benjamin T. Pitts ran movie theaters in Fredericksburg, Culpeper and Orange. Was a State Senator.
  W. J. Rollins. Operated Main Street Market. Mario's Italian Restaurant is in that location today, but it's not the same building. Today's building was originally the Dutch Deli.
Welford Sherman Jr. Along with Fred Allman, he was instrumental in the effort to start WJMA. He also had an interest in the family HVAC & plumbing business: W. A. Sherman Company which was named for his father. In later years he owned and operated the President Madison Inn. Welford graduated from Virginia Tech in the Spring of 1941 with a degree in industrial engineering. By December of 1941 he had been called up to active military duty. He attended artillery school and worked on early RADAR research at both Harvard and MIT. He spent 28 months in the Pacific Theater commanding an anti-aircraft battery defending against air attack. He also participated in direct fire missions in support of ground troops. He was awarded the Bronze Star with one cluster. His military work gave him a knowledge of antennas. He was a founding member of the Orange County Jaycees, a member of the Orange Rotary Club, the Orange County Chamber of Commerce, a member of the Orange County Industrial Development Corporations, a member of the American Legion and Veterans of Foreign Wars, he was the co-founder of the Montpelier Club, a member of the Woodberry Forest Golf Club, member of the Virginia State Chamber of Commerce and chairman of the Virginia Travel Development Committee from 1964 to 1968. After selling his interest in WJMA, he owned and operated the President Madison Inn. Image from the Sherman family.
  Arthur E. Sims. Texaco fuel distributor
Edward B. Sparks. Owned and operated Sparks Grocery on Main Street for over 40 years. He was an Army veteran having spent time in Italy during World War II where he received the Bronze Star for Valor. Ed was sometims called "The Mayor of Mainstreet" because of his civic involvement. He served 30 years on the Orange Board of Zoning Appeals. He was on the Virginina National Bank advisory board, a member of the Orange Rotary Club and on the Board of the Orange County Rescue Squad. He was a 60 year member of American Legion Post 156. He was on Orange High School's first football team. Ed, was the last living original WJMA stockholder. He died on July 20, 2010. Image contributed by Tom Sparks.
  Robert B. Suddith ran Suddith Buick on Madison Road. The Reynolds GM repair shop occupies the location today.
Hartzel Spence. Born in Clarion, Iowa, the son of a minister. Hartzell Spence graduated magna cum laude from the University of Iowa in 1930. From 1930 to 1941 he was the United Press bureau manager in Des Moines. He saw service during WW II in the Army Air Forces where he was the founder and first editor of Yank, the Army weekly newspaper. He is credited with originating the term "pin up" for the pictures of Hollywood actresses printed in each issue. American soldiers frequently "pinned up" those photos during World War II. After the war, he worked as a free-lance writer, particularly noted for his reporting on religion. He published several novels and wrote a comic strip called "Sad Sack". His first published novel was One Foot in Heaven, which became a best-seller and went through three printings It was made into a motion picture starring Frederic March and Martha Scott in 1941. It is not available from Netflix. Turner Classic Movies had rights to the film, but has not shown it. Spence wrote a sequel, Get Thee Behind Me, which was also very popular. He wrote the scripts for the weekly radio program, One Foot in Heaven, broadcast on the ABC radio network in 1944 and 1945. In 1947 he moved to Gaston Hall located between Montpelier Station and Somerset in Orange County, Virginia. Hartzell Spence died in May of 2001. Many newspapers, including the New York Times, ran his obituary. There's a picture of Hartzell Spence on the University of Iowa Library web site.
  George B. Tyler. Attorney. Lived on a named farm near Rapidan.
Goree A. Waugh. Ran Waugh Furniture Company on Main Street in Orange. There are a number of business in that location today including Logan's Hair Salon, and Happy Garden Chinese Restaurant. Image from the Orange Review.
Wyatt A. Williams. Cattleman and Orange businessman. Lived at "Little Yatton". Image from the Orange Review.

 

 

 

 

 

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