Wacks, Virgil Q.
- Existence: 1906-1994
Virgil Q. Wacks was born May1, 1906 in St. Charles, Virginia. He was one of two children born to William B. Wacks of St. Charles, Virginia and Allie Harber Wacks, formerly of Hubbard Springs, Virginia. Golden Wacks, a sister, was born seven years later. In 1946, Virgil Wacks married Jauree Elizabeth McElroy of Jonesville, Virginia. They moved to Pennington Gap, Virginia in 1952, where they raised two sons, Quinton and Mitchel.
Wacks spent his formative years in St. Charles, Virginia and graduated from Lee Baptist Institute. He won a scholarship in baseball to Bluefield College and later played semi-pro baseball. He became the mayor of St. Charles, Virginia in 1931. During this period he received his diploma in cinematography from the New York School of Photography and worked as a stringer, correspondent, and staffer for various newspapers and wire services, including United Press International (UPI) and Associated Press (AP). In addition to these duties, Wacks was associate editor of the Powell Valley News. His stories on “Bouncing Bertha”, a Lee County girl bedeviled by the supernatural, and snake handlers ran in Life, Look, and Newsweek magazines. He covered the 1940 Rose Bowl and screen- tested for a major motion picture film studio during a stay in Hollywood, California. Wacks served as Commissioner for the Mountain States Professional Baseball League from 1946 to 1954.
During the 1950s, Wacks became increasingly involved in the Lee County region as both businessman and organizer. He owned the Lee Block Company, ran the Lee County Fair for 16 years, and organized the Lee County Tobacco Festival. As president of the Lee County Chamber of Commerce, he brought several businesses into the county such as the tobacco warehouses, the Cas Walker Supermart, the Pennington Airport, and various small factories. During this time, Wacks was active in many civic and political efforts and was a Mason.
From 1957 to 1983, Wacks hosted a popular long- running weekly television program, “The Virgil Q. Wacks Varieties Show”, which aired on local television stations WJHL (Johnson City, Tenn.), and WKPT (Kingsport, Tenn.), and WLEX in Lexington, Ky. This program spotlighted community events within small towns in western North Carolina, southeast Kentucky, East Tennessee, and southwest Virginia. The program also functioned as an advertising tool for area businesses. In addition to his television program, Wacks served as a sportscaster and announcer on radio for several decades.
Although Mr. Wacks retired from television at the age of 78, he continued to remain active as a promoter for the Lee County area and was involved in various projects. Wacks’ health began to decline in the early 1990s and he passed away in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, June 24, 1994, at the age of 88