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Honoring Fairmont’s Ensign James Show Maddox

November 11, 2016 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm

James Show Maddox, a native of Fairmont, WV, died after 77 days adrift in the South Atlantic following a November 2, 1942 U-boat attack on his merchant vessel, the M. S. Zaandam.

He died January 17, 1943, a week before the eventual rescue of a small group who depended on Maddox’s leadership, creativity and courage. Their rescue after 83 days was one of the longest recorded in Navy history. Unfortunately, he was not always identified as a West Virginian. Little recognition of him in Fairmont existed prior to this project.

Please join us on any of the following community programs and events this fall in Fairmont, WV as we recall and celebrate the life of James S. Maddox. (These programs are sponsored through a grant from the West Virginia Humanities Council)

Dedication of the James Maddox Memorial bench at the First Baptist Church

This will be held in the church sanctuary on Friday November 11th at 7:00 p.m. A memorial bench placed on the church lawn will be dedicated in a program about the WWII event and reflections about the Maddox family. Music, photo displays and memorabilia will help tell the story. This is open to the public at no charge. The First Baptist Church is located at 900 Fairmont Avenue in Fairmont.

Community Lecture Series, Frank and Jane Gabor WV Folklife Center, Fairmont State University

This event held in the 2nd floor gallery begins at 2:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 13th. It recalls the power of a story from the early 1970s when an elderly neighbor told a young woman about the family who lived in the house she now occupied on Pittsburgh Avenue in Fairmont. Recalling that story 40 years later brought about the search for the details behind bits and pieces of a story that became a journey in discovery of a local hero. It also includes a multi-media presentation of the life of James Maddox as well as information about the Navy Armed Guard, and how the event affected his parents and young widow. This is open to the public at no charge. The Folklife Center is located off Squibb Wilson Boulevard at the South Entrance of Fairmont State. From March-May, 2017, there will also be a gallery display the life of James Maddox, his wife and family.

The Life of James Show Maddox Display at the annual Open House at the historic Fleming Mansion at 300 1st Street in Fairmont during the Feast of the 7 Fishes Festival. This event will be held on Saturday Dec. 10th from 1:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m. There is a small fee to tour the Fleming Mansion. The A Cappella quartet “Angelica” will perform a selection of holiday music from 2-3 p.m. during this event.

All participants at any of these events will receive a free copy of the publication entitled “Forgotten Hero,” which tells the story of this young man who grew up on Pittsburgh Avenue. It also examines the impact on his parents who lost their only child, and the resolve of his young widow he left behind.


November 11, 2016
7:00 pm - 8:00 pm