123 South Washington Street
Havre de Grace, MD 21078
Phone: (410) 939-2882
Fax: (410) 939-5153

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Virginia Pate Wetter
In Memory of
Virginia Forwood
Pate Wetter (Forwood)
1919 - 2018
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Obituary for Virginia Pate Wetter (Forwood)

Virginia  Pate Wetter (Forwood)
Virginia Forwood Pate Wetter, a prominent life-long resident of Havre de Grace, Maryland, died in her home on September 25, 2018 Mrs. Wetter was the daughter of Walter Forwood and Bennita Charshee Forwood. Born on August 10, 1919, she graduated from Havre de Grace High School and was the first in her family to graduate from college at the College of William and Mary in Virginia. In 1941, she married Jason Thomas Pate of Atlanta, Georgia. Together, they created the Chesapeake Broadcasting Corporation, opening in 1948 as the first radio broadcast station between Baltimore and Wilmington. On Mr. Pate’s death in 1960, Mrs. Wetter became the chairman and CEO of the Chesapeake Broadcasting Corporation, the parent of stations WASA (AM) and WHDG (FM). Mrs. Wetter had an outstanding career in broadcasting, one of only five women nationwide to manage a broadcast operation when she assumed management. Early on, she recognized the possibility of cable television and secured the cable franchise for Harford County, the beginnings of Comcast in the county. In 1972, she married Edward Wetter of New York, and they made their life together in Havre de Grace until his death in 2001.

Virginia Wetter was the first woman elected to the Radio Board of the National Association of Broadcasters (having earlier served as a member of its Radio Code Board), the first woman president of the Maryland-DC-Delaware Broadcasters Association, national president of American Women in Radio & Television, and among other associations was a director of the Broadcast Pioneers Library, predecessor to the Library of American Broadcasting at the University of Maryland. She was the first woman to be accepted at Harvard’s Advanced Leadership Program for broadcast executives. She worked actively at the national policy level, testifying before the Federal Communications Commission and the U.S. Congress about broadcast issues. She met Presidents, Prime Ministers, members of Congress and royalty as a spokesperson for broadcast integrity.

Among her many honors are the American Women in Radio and Television Directors Award and its Radio Leadership Award, the American Broadcast Pioneer Award of the Broadcasters Association of America, the Alumni Medallion bestowed by the College of William & Mary (its highest recognition to a graduate) and an Honorary Doctorate of Public Service from that institution. At the age of 95, Mrs. Wetter was honored as a “Giant of Broadcasting and Electronic Arts” in a ceremony in New York. This recognized her distinguished excellence and performance in the industry.

In addition, Mrs. Wetter spent thirty years in the field of education policy-making through her appointments to the Harford County Board of Education and the Harford Community College Board of Trustees, serving as chair of both boards. She served as President of the Maryland Association of Boards of Education, member of the Harford Community College Foundation Board, and an honorary member of the Maryland Congress of Parents and Teachers.

Locally, Mrs. Wetter served at various times as Director of the Heart Association, the Cancer Society, the United Way, the Blood Bank, the Aberdeen Proving Ground Joint Military/Civilian Advisory Committee, as a member of the Vestry of St. John’s Episcopal Church, on the Committee to Promote the Employment of the Physically Handicapped, and on the Susquehanna Council of Girl Scouts. Mrs. Wetter started the very first Girl Scout troop in Harford County in 1930 at the age of 11.

She was listed in twelve different titles of the Who’s Who volumes as well as the Royal Blue Book of England and The Two Thousand Women of Achievement. She was a role model and a mentor to young women in the broadcasting industry, actively working to promote women in the field.

Most importantly, she was the matriarch and mentor for her children and grandchildren whom she taught to live well, to live responsibly, and to give back to life.

She is survived by her children, Jason David Pate of Havre de Grace, Kennon Pate McKee of Chicago, and Barbara Pate Glacel of Oakton, Virginia, as well as six grandchildren: Christopher Pate, Alison Pate, Colin McKee, Jennifer Glacel, Sarah Glacel, Ashley Glacel; and nine great grandchildren.

Services will be held at Saint John’s Episcopal Church, 114 North Union Avenue, Havre de Grace, MD, on October 12 at 11:00 a.m. Interment will be at Bel Air Memorial Gardens. The family will receive friends at the Zellman Funeral Home, 123 South Washington Street, Havre de Grace, Maryland, from 6 – 8 p.m. on October 11.

Memorial contributions are requested to either Saint John’s Episcopal Church, 114 North Union Avenue, Havre de Grace, MD 21078; or to the Forwood-Pate scholarship endowment which provides need-based scholarships to out-of-state undergraduate students at the College of William and Mary, PO Box 8795, Williamsburg, VA 23187-8795 (https://giving.wm.edu/ways-to-give/index.php ). Allocation # 2358.

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