James C. Justice, II was born April 27, 1951, to James Conley Justice and Edna Ruth Justice. He attended Raleigh County public schools and graduated from Woodrow Wilson High School in 1969, attended Greenbrier Military Academy as a post graduate. Governor Justice went to Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia, and was captain of the golf team for two years before earning his undergraduate degree and a Masters in Business Administration.
The Governor joined his family’s business in 1976. Because of his strong interest in nature and the outdoors, he started Justice Family Farms in 1977 in beautiful Monroe County, West Virginia. Under his direction, Justice Farming Operations has grown to be a major agricultural enterprise. His companies farm more than 50,000 acres of corn, wheat, and soybeans in West Virginia, Virginia, North Carolina and South Carolina.
Gov. Justice is the largest farmer east of the Mississippi River. He is a long-time member of the National Corn Growers Association and a seven-time national corn growing champion. Jim, a passionate sportsman himself, developed Stoney Brook Plantation, a 15,000-acre hunting and fishing preserve in Monroe County, West Virginia. In 2016 Jim and his great bird dog companion, Lilly, bagged 73 grouse in our Mountain State.
Upon the death of his father in 1993, Jim became the President and CEO of Bluestone Industries, Inc. and Bluestone Coal Corporation. Over the next 15 years, Jim launched a massive expansion of multiple businesses which included significant coal reserve expansion, Christmas tree farms, cotton gins, turfgrass operations, golf courses, timber enhancement and land projects just to mention a few. Before being elected governor, Jim was the president and CEO of 102 different companies.
Governor Justice spent his career creating thousands of jobs and understands how to put people to work.
During late 2008 and early 2009, Jim successfully negotiated the sale of Bluestone Industries, Inc. and affiliated companies, which comprised all of the family’s West Virginia coal mines at the time, to Mechel, OAO, one of Russia’s leading mining and metal companies. The Russian company failed, laid off coal miners, and was going to walk on their financial obligations.
In 2015, Jim reacquired all of these Bluestone assets back from Mechel and, in a short time, reopened most of the mines and created more than 200 new mining jobs. Had Mr. Justice not stepped up, these mines would have stayed closed, back taxes would not have been paid, and UMWA pensioners would have been left in the cold.
In 2009, Justice rescued The Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia, from bankruptcy. The workforce was facing deep cuts in jobs and benefits. Immediately after purchasing The Greenbrier, Jim Justice reversed many of the benefit cuts and invested in renovations and expansions. He brought major events like the PGA Tour, training camps for the NFL and NBA, and countless high-profile acts and conferences to The Greenbrier. As governor, he wants to do everything possible to put West Virginia in a positive light.
Justice saw an opportunity to grow tourism in Raleigh County so he acquired The Resort at Glade Springs, Black Knight Country Club, and Brier Patch Golf Links.
Governor Justice thinks big. In 2015, he started building a $1 billion dollar mountain complex with housing, skiing, and a championship golf course to bring the U.S. Open to West Virginia. It’s history in the making -- something that has never been done before— a golf course designed by Gary Player, the late Arnold Palmer, Lee Trevino, and Jack Nicklaus, all in our great state. The Greenbrier is where Arnie got his first professional check and will be where he designed his last course.
Jim has carried on his family’s tradition of being major supporters of youth programs in Southern West Virginia. Since 1992 he has been President of Beckley Little League. His participation has helped the program expand to over 1,000 kids playing on 80 teams. He has coached basketball teams of all ages for the past 36 years and is currently the head girls and boys basketball coach at Greenbrier East High School in Lewisburg, WV. On November 29, 2016, Jim was honored when he coached his 1,000th career win in basketball.
As part of his involvement with the West Virginia Coal Association in the early 1990’s, Jim became Tournament Director of the Mountain State Coal Classic Basketball Tournament. The Classic was moved to Beckley and has enjoyed tremendous success by awarding hundreds of thousands of dollars in scholarships and direct support to participating schools. Jim used his contacts to bring sports greats to Beckley as guest speakers for the Classic, including: Hot Rod Hundley, Terry Bradshaw, Dick Vitale, Jerry West, Joe Theismann, Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Dr. “J” Julius Erving, Bo Jackson, Bob Pruett, Don Nehlen, Doc Holliday, Rich Rodriguez, Chad Pennington, Lou Holtz, Larry Bird, Bill Walton, John Elway, Bill Stewart, Shaq, Charles Barkley, Tim Tebow, Denny Hamlin, Sean Payton, Cam Newton and Pat White. The Tournament, now known as The Big Atlantic Classic has become even bigger and better.
Giving back to the community is at the core of who the governor is. He is guided by his commitment to the Good Lord, his family, and helping West Virginia’s youth. Every Christmas, Jim puts on his custom made Santa Claus suit and visits local churches to give away $1 million in gifts to children in need.
Jim was the 1998 Recipient of the Beckley-Raleigh County Chamber of Commerce’s Community Service Award as a result of his involvement with youth programs in the area, the 1998 Recipient of the “Spirit of Beckley” Award from the Beckley-Raleigh County YMCA, the 2000 recipient of the City of Hope Medical Center’s “Spirit of Life” award, the 2009 Charleston Gazette’s “West Virginian of the Year”. In 2010, he was named a “Distinguished West Virginian” by Governor (now Senator) Joe Manchin and the 2011 Honoree at the National Multiple Sclerosis Society’s Blue Ridge Chapter “Dinner of Champions”. Jim was chosen Mountain Athletic Conference “Coach of the Year” and West Virginia High School “Coach of the Year” in 2012 and was named” West Virginian of the Year” in 2014 and again in 2016 by the Clarksburg Exponent Telegram.
In May 2015, Jim announced his campaign to seek the office of governor of West Virginia. After 19 months on the campaign trail sharing his vision for transforming West Virginia, Jim was elected the 36th governor of West Virginia. He won with a broad coalition of support from Democrats, Republicans, and Independents.
Jim and his wife Cathy have been best friends since high school. They recently celebrated their 40th wedding anniversary.
The Governor and the First Lady have two children, James (Jay) C. Justice, III, a Virginia Tech graduate who runs the Justice family’s coal and agriculture operations, and Dr. Jill Justice, a graduate of Marshall University and The Edward Via Virginia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Blacksburg, VA. Jill is now president of Greenbrier Hotel Corporation and practices at the Greenbrier Clinic.
The Justice family has recently grown to include Jay’s wife, Catherine Grainger Justice, and Jill’s husband, Adam Long.
The Governor and First Lady are long-time members of the First Baptist Church in Beckley, WV. They have two dogs: Ellie, a Boston Terrier, and Babydog, an English Bulldog. Babydog captured the hearts of West Virginians everywhere as the face of the Governor’s “Do it for Babydog” vaccination sweepstakes. Whether it be special appearances on the biggest of stages, like the Governor’s State of the State address, or simply meeting people and shaking paws in her travels, Babydog always makes everyone smile everywhere that she and the Governor go.
About the First Lady
Cathy Leigh Comer Justice, daughter and only child of Thomas Leigh and Virginia Ruth Comer, was born January 28, 1953 in Beckley, WV and grew up in Prosperity, WV.
She attended Raleigh County Public Schools, where she met her future husband, Governor Jim Justice. Cathy graduated from Marshall University in 1975 with a degree in Secondary Education. She and the future Governor were married the next year.
Upon the death of her father, Cathy became President of Comer Electric, Inc., a business started by her father and mother. She also served on the Board of Directors of First National Bank of Ronceverte, WV, for five years.
As a young girl, First Lady Justice was very active in the 4-H organization and her love of horses led her and Governor Justice to become involved in the thoroughbred breeding and racing operation.
Having been a substitute teacher during her early career, First Lady Justice has always realized the importance education has in childhood development. This led her to choose education as her primary initiative as First Lady of West Virginia. Along with the West Virginia Department of Education, First Lady Justice has overseen the growth of a highly successful national non-profit program throughout West Virginia. Communities In Schools began as a 3-county pilot program in 2018 and in three years has grown to 24 counties, serving nearly 45,000 students throughout West Virginia.