Reprinted with permission from The Cumberland Times-News Allegany Magazine
By CAROLYN WIEBRECHT BOND Special Contributor, Allegany Magazine
Originally printed June 7, 2021
Act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly. A Portrait of Dinah Courrier
And why she was selected as the 2021 Humanitarian of the Year
A trailblazer in her own right, Dinah Courrier has spent her life making inroads to a better tomorrow by looking back at history.
The recipient of numerous awards for her life’s work, Dinah was recently named the 2021 Humanitarian of the Year by the Community Trust Foundation (CTF). An educator, historian, author, and community organizer, the esteemed Mrs. Courrier’s exemplary accomplishments define her as a philanthropic leader who is intent on growing a stronger and more vibrant community. Oh, but don’t take my word for it.
“Dinah’s personal and professional accomplishments are consistent with the goals of CTF,” states Marion Leonard, CTF board chair. “Her community activism is compassionate toward society’s on-going reach for social justice and equality. Few people demonstrate such a fervent love for history and for community as she does.”
For more than five decades, this dynamo has spearheaded numerous projects to elevate and preserve the history of her beloved Mineral County for future generations. Not just for the purpose of putting artifacts on display. But to highlight for posterity how forward-thinking and equitable the ancestors of West Virginia’s eastern panhandle actually leaned.
Founded in 1866, Mineral County splintered from a larger district in the aftermath of the Civil War, mainly due to its alignment with the North’s pro-Union stance. Proud that her roots entwine with those who wished to abolish slavery, Courrier pursued many opportunities throughout her career to promote racial equality in education.
Teaching at Potomac State College for 22 years, she served another decade as an administrator. While there, she established a council to examine issues of social justice and to provide programs focusing on diversity, which were open to the community.
One project, in particular, examined the experience of the first black students integrated into the institution in 1954.
In addition, she coordinated a presentation by a Holocaust survivor and created an annual week-long diversity celebration featuring various cultures. Her endeavors helped to establish a dialogue between inner-city students and rural students.
“Dinah’s long list of awards could read like a rote enumeration of professional credentials, were it not for the way each accolade reflects her core values,” denotes Leah Shaffer, CTF director. “Specifically, her love for humanity, giving back to the place she calls home, and serving others with humility.”
Named a West Virginia Hero by the state’s Division of Arts and Culture in 2017, Courrier has authored and edited several books on local history and Potomac State College. She also co-produced a video about Mineral County which aired on West Virginia public television. In addition, she wrote three grants for the preservation of the Carskadon Mansion, listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
For her county’s sesquicentennial celebration in 2016, she prepared the event’s program and also edited and researched the historical society’s publication on Mineral County schools.
“I owe a huge debt of gratitude to three wonderful teachers of West Virginia history who instilled in me a love for local and state history and the importance of preserving our heritage for future generations,” she stated.
A lifetime member of the Mineral County historical society, Dinah donated space to house the Mineral County Museum, as well as coordinated exhibits, wrote grants, researched and indexed donated items, necessary to open the facility in 2019.
“It’s a work in progress,” she noted. “We continue to seek and accept new items to enhance the collection and tell our story in more depth and detail.”
Courrier created Mineral County’s “Food for Thought” program in 2009 to provide nutrition for children on days there is no school. Over a decade later, the program serves approximately 400 students each week.
One of the first women in her region to become active in Rotary International, Courrier has served all its major offices of the Keyser club. A member of Trinity Lutheran Church, she and her husband, Dr. James Courrier, have four children and 12 grandchildren.
Intrinsically, Dinah has always believed that while she cannot save the world, she can save a piece of it. Doing her part to preserve the rich and varied history of her beloved Mineral County gives her life meaning in a corner of the world described as “almost heaven” in the iconic John Denver song.
A strong advocate for the rights of all, Dinah believes the only right we have is the right to be useful. Taking inspiration from the Biblical verse found in Micah 6:8, her life’s motto is to act justly, love mercy, and walk humbly.
Dinah Courrier will receive the Community Trust Foundation Humanitatian of the Year Award during a ceremony by the foundation schedule for Thursday, September 9. For more information on the Community Trust Foundation and its endeavors in Allegany, Garrett, and Mineral Counties, email email@example.com, call 301-876-9172, or visit www.ctfinc.org.