Theyre grounded in the bedrock traditions of family and place that can only come from being native West Virginiansand graduates of West Virginia University.

But just because youregroundedas a NASA consultant, a federal judge and two shining lights in the business world will show WVU on Valentines Daydoesnt mean you still cant soar to success.

Say hello to the 2004 class of inductees to the WVU Alumni Associations Academy of Distinguished Alumni: Edward Buckbee, Charles Haden II, Pamela Maphis Larrick and Robert Reynolds.

The quartet will join the academy on Saturday, Feb. 14, at a 7 p.m. dinner and ceremony at Erickson Alumni Center.

Buckbee notched 30 years with National Aeronautics and Space Administration. He signed on as a public relations man in the heady days of the Mercury program and itsRight Stuffstars, John Glenn, Alan Shepard, Gordon Cooper and others, before directing the U.S. Space and Rocket Center and founding NASA s famed International Space Camp. Hes a Romney native and 1958 graduate of the Perley Isaac Reed School of Journalism.

Haden is a federal judge who has taken on drug trafficking in Miami and big coal in the Kanawha Valley. He began his career as a lawyer in his hometown of Morgantown, after taking a degree from WVU s College of Law in 1961.

Larrick is president and chief executive officer of McCann Relationship Marketing (MRM) Worldwide, recognized as a worldwide leader in relationship marketing. The 1972 journalism graduate is a Clarksburg native, who, in turn, has been recognized worldwide for her abilities in her industry.

Reynolds has been hailed in the business press for his profit-generating management skills at Fidelity Investments. The 1974 graduate of the College of Business and Economics is vice chairman and chief operating officer of the trillion-dollar Boston firm recognized as the No. 1 provider of retirement savings plans and online brokerage services in the United States. Hes also from Clarksburg.

Academy inductees over past years have included a broad spectrum of achievers, from pro basketball legend Jerry West to acclaimed writer Jayne Anne Phillips to U.S. Air Force Gen. Robert Foglesong, former vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff.

All those different experiences and achievements, alumni association director Steve Douglas said, are woven together by the Mountaineer-proud thread of WVU , and its academics and atmosphere.

It doesnt matter if you come from a major city or small-town West Virginia,Douglas said.Youre going to get a well-rounded experience at WVU , and youre going to learn about what you have to do to succeed outside of the classroom. Our inductees this year represent the best our university and our state has to offer. They show us that if you study hard, and work hard, youre going to achieve. Thats all there is to it.

Heres a closer look at this years inductees:

Romney, Rockets and the Right Stuff

Edward Buckbees career has taken him from Romney to Russia.

Hes a Mountaineer who made friends with Americas original Mercury 7 astronauts.

Thats because he was sharing the same ground as the high-altitude heroes who were making their collective reach for the moon and stars.

Buckbee had just completed a tour of duty as a U.S. Army officer as part of his college ROTC obligation when he signed on as a civilian employee of NASA s newly formed Marshall Space Flight Center.

It was 1961. The space race couldnt have been hotter. And Buckbees boss couldnt have been more committed to the cause.

Buckbee reported daily to Dr. Wernher von Braun, the famed rocket scientist credited with finally getting Americas space program off the test pilot tarmacand past the pull of Earths gravity.

In 1968, von Braun plucked Buckbee to be the first director of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Ala., where Buckbee continues to live and stay involved with matters of space exploration today.

He toured spaceflight facilities in China during his tenure as director and once made a stop at Star Citythe one in Russia, not Monongalia Countythe home of the Russian manned space program.

The International Space Camp, a side project he founded in 1982 in Huntsville, has turned into a $25 million-a-year international businessproviding an outer space experience for more than 500,000 students and teachers from 70 countries.

He officially retired from NASA in 1994, but he works for the agency as an consultant, while authoring books and articles and serving as a technical advisor to movie and television productions dealing with space exploration.

TheFamous Firstexhibit he created at the Kennedy Space Center is a tribute to the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo astronauts. Hes married with three daughters and six grandchildren.

King of the Mountain

Charles Haden has faced a lot of defendants and plaintiffs in the nearly 25 years he has worn the black robe as chief judge of the U.S. District Court for Southern West Virginia.

That appointment has taken him outside the Mountain States borders from time to time, and in years past, Haden has presided over drug-trafficking cases in Miami and South Florida.

In 1999, though, he made his name right here at home in West Virginia, with a decision that turned into a three-way tug-of-war between the political, coal and environmental interests of his native state.

The issue was mountaintop removal, a form of coal mining that strips off the tops of peaks to reveal coal seams underneath. The coal, of course, is hauled awaybut what to do with the rock and dirt left over?

Up until the lawsuit heard by Haden, the aforementioned byproducts of mountaintop removal had simply been dumped into hollows and streams below. Bragg v. Robertson begged to differ, and the lawsuit charged both the Department of Environmental Protection and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for failing to properly monitor the disposal stage of the mining process.

Haden said no more to the dumping, deeming it an environmental hazardand in his ruling also contended state agencies had failed to enforce laws already on the books regarding mountaintop removal. The ruling was heard all the way from the West Virginia coal fields to Capitol Hill.

The judge, meanwhile, is no stranger to community activism. As a Morgantown attorney, he held a seat on the Monongalia County Board of Education, while also being elected to the state House of Delegates.

He holds numerous awards from his alma mater, including the Justitia Officium award, the highest honor the College of Law can bestow. He lives in Charleston with his wife. Two of the couples three grown children are WVU graduates and they have 10 grandchildren.

Coca-Colaand critical acclaim

You can see the fruits of Pamela Maphis Larricks labor in your living room every night.

Those commercials that beam across your TV screen for Microsoft, Coca-Cola, United Parcel Service, MasterCard and other commerce giants are produced by the MRM agency she oversees.

That client list under her direction has continued to growalong with the wellspring of creative, eye-catching ads that spark product sales, and critical notice in the industry.

MRM s ad campaigns have garnered more DMA ECHO awards than any other North American agency in the past five years, and MRM is the only North America-based agency ever to win the coveted Cannes Gold Line Direct award.

In 1997, Larrick was named one of the top 25 women leaders in the industry by the leading trade publication, Advertising Age. She also won her industrys prestigious Emerson Lifetime Achievement Award for her direct marketing campaigns, and the international publication Ad Age Global praised her asone of the most innovative, daring and dynamic leaders in marketing, advertising and media.

She lives in New York City with her husband and three daughters. When she isnt flying back to Morgantown for WVU football and basketball games, she spends her off-hours volunteering at the New York Blood Center. She also contributes her time and talents to the ALS Foundation and the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinsons Research.

Larrick is the daughter of the late Allan and Elviera Maphis.

The feeling is Mutual

Running the largest mutual fund company in the United States comes easy for Robert Reynolds. Why? Because he knows the joband because he wouldnt ask any employee of the Boston-based Fidelity Investments firm he heads to do anything he wouldnt do himself.

To operate any other way would mean tossing down a yellow flag, said Reynolds, who spent 15 years of college football Saturdays as a referee, wearing his stripes from stadium to stadium across the country.

Reynolds earned his workplace stripes in West Virginias banking industry, launching a career in finance that eventually landed him in Boston, and at the helm of Fidelity.

The 1974 business administration graduate grew up in Clarksburg, the son of an insurance executive who had also served as mayor of the bustling Harrison County city.

He got into banking by way of the former Wheeling Dollar Bank, working as a trust manager for the Northern Panhandle-based institution before moving on to NCNB Corp. of Charlotte, N.C. He was a senior vice president there when he left for Fidelity in 1984.

Reynolds logged 11 years running Fidelitys 401(k) business, growing that divisions total assets from $9 billion to $224 billion, making him, in effect, as BusinessWeek magazine observed, the manager of the countrys biggest such fund.

As Fidelitys top officer, he continues to cast a line for new businessbut whenever he can get away, youll find him casting for bass and bluefish off the Nantucket coast. Hes also a regular on the ski slopes of Utah.

He now calls Concord, Mass., home, where he lives with his wife, four children and dog.