History of the Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center

Portrait of Mary Babb Randolph

The Mary Babb Randolph Cancer Center is named for Mary Katherine Babb, a native of Keyser, WV who died from colon cancer. Most people knew Mary as the wife of U. S. Senator Jennings Randolph (D-WV).

Mary Katherine Babb was born and raised in Keyser, the county seat of Mineral County. After completing her public school education there she went to Potomac State College and later Beaver College (now Arcadia University) at Jenkintown, PA near Philadelphia, then returned to Keyser to design patterns for hand-loomed woolen products at a woolen mill. She later took a position with the West Virginia Board of Children’s Guardians and traveled throughout the state’s eastern panhandle counties in search of foster parents and adoptive parents for orphaned or abandoned children. At times she needed a rowboat to visit families that lived along the rivers and major streams. She became well-known as the “Welfare Lady.”

Mary Babb Randolph received an honorary Doctor of Public Service degree from Salem College (WV) in 1979. She was a friend to several First Ladies and was active in the Senate Wives Club and was a volunteer with several civic and service groups.

Mary Babb and Jennings Randolph were married for 48 years and had two sons, Jay and Frank.

Jennings Randolph said of his wife in the Clarksburg Telegram, June 29, 1988, “My wife was not a person desiring memorials, but having worked with handicapped and underprivileged children and families, she would applaud the commitments of West Virginians to this cancer center.”