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West Virginia's Fike Chemicals founder dies

| Friday, Feb. 9, 2007

NITRO, W.Va. (AP) -- Elmer A. Fike, the founder of the former Fike Chemicals who also was a political activist and critic of government regulation, has died.

Fike died Wednesday. He was 87, his family said.

Fike established Fike Chemicals in 1971, merging it with another company he had founded. He sold Fike Chemicals to Artel Chemical Co. of New York in 1986. Artel closed the plant two years later.

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency declared the property a Superfund site in June 1988 and began cleaning up the site. In May 1999, the EPA transferred the property to the Nitro Development Authority. Authority member Olaf Walker said the authority still owns the property.

Fike frequently criticized the EPA's involvement and what he believed was governmental interference with private business.

Fike also was a former chairman of the Putnam County Republican Party and ran unsuccessfully for the Legislature. After his daughter Martha was killed in a traffic accident in 1966, he campaigned for highway safety laws, including mandatory seat belt and motorcycle helmet laws.

He also was a commentator for West Virginia Public Radio.

Fike was born in Warrensburg, Mo., on Dec. 24, 1919. He was a graduate of Iowa State University and began his career at Monsanto.

He is survived by his wife, Frances; three daughters, one son, nine grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.

Funeral services will be held at 2:30 p.m. Saturday at St. Mark's United Methodist Church in Charleston. Cooke Funeral Home and Crematorium of Nitro is in charge of arrangements.

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