(07/21/2002)

Exceptional Virgil is 100 years old

Spencer resident Elsie Daugherty was surprised when a relative called her last week and said "Get on the Regis and Kelly Show, quick." She said "Your husband Virgil's picture is on national TV" and will be a finalist in the "Hunky Husband" contest.

Elsie, a retired Kellwood employee and 16 year veteran of Spencer's City Council, entered Virgil's picture in the contest, a picture taken earlier this year on his 100th birthday. "I'm really proud of him, for many reasons," said Elsie, who is 74.

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Regis Philbin said "Look at this guy," commenting on Daugherty's good looks and healthy appearance. Philbin said he could be a winner.

Daugherty was honored in February with a community-wide celebration, and Willard Scott recognized him on the Today Show. "A little girl, during the party, came up and asked for his autograph," said Elsie.

Daugherty is somewhat an enigma, still vital, interested and connected with everyday life. The old saying should be modified to "Hey, you look a lot better than your age."

A Roane County school teacher and member of an early Board of Education system, he went to work for the Trader's Bank in 1928, retiring in 1974 with 47 years of service.

Daugherty has great recall, giving details about the stock market crash and the beginning of the Great Depression. When word spread there might be a run on banks, Daugherty was sent to Charleston to "borrow" $125,000 in cash for the bank's opening at 9 a.m.

Virgil and wife Elsie

"Sure enough a lot of people came through the door, asking if their money was still in the bank," he said. He and his associates spread the cash across a table, calming the fears of the customers. "We told them they could have their money, if they wanted."

"Very few made a withdraw, keeping confidence in the bank," said Daugherty.

Elsie said though the voting would be on the internet, starting Monday. She was unclear about the grand prize, but she thought it would be a trip to New York.

"Virgil would be up to it, I'm sure," she said.

"I don't think I'll win," Virgil concluded. "I've rarely won a thing."


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