Portrait from the Theta Beta Phi, 1898.
Through a year of Coronavirus uncertainty, pronounced political disagreement, and a genuine feeling of apprehension, 2020 comes to a close today at midnight. In a small amount of positivity in an otherwise uncertain year comes the unveiling of our 2020 Strangest Name of The Year. Since 2013 the final article of the year is devoted to an especially odd named figure, and Massillon, Ohio's own Warrington Karthaus Lavake Warwick is this year's honoree. Despite his death at the age of just 34, Warwick carved a notable career for himself in Ohio, being the executive of three coal companies, among other business interests. Warwick earns placement here on the site due to his being a delegate to the 1892 Democratic National Convention from Ohio, and for his service on the state Democratic Executive Committee.
After his mother's marriage to John G. Warwick, Warrington Karthaus LaVake took his stepfather's last name and was legally adopted by the future Congressman. He would attend the Massillon public schools and at age 13 enrolled at the Nazareth Hall School in Nazareth, Pennsylvania. He graduated two years later and beginning in 1878 studied at the Harcourt School in Gambier, Ohio. Upon graduation in 1880 he enrolled at the Kenyon College in Gambier, where he was a member of the Beta Theta Pi fraternity. He remained connected to his old fraternity throughout his life, and in his final years was a trustee for the General Fraternity of Beta Theta Phi. Warwick left Kenyon College in his sophomore year to join his stepfather's office, and until John Warwick's death in 1892 he remained his "confidential assistant and the real manager of all his extensive business interests." Warwick married in Pittsburg in 1885 to Jessie Moore Gillespie, to who he was wed until his death. The couple had one son, John Gillespie Warwick (1886-1937). Beginning in the 1880s Warrington Warwick entered Democratic politics in Stark County, being named chairman of a Young Democrats meeting at Bammerlin's Hall in Massillon. He was later selected as president of that organization, named the "Paige Guards." In 1889 his name was prominently mentioned for the Ohio state senate from the Stark-Carroll County district. In the year following he was elected as a delegate to the Ohio Democratic State Convention and took an active role in his stepfather's campaign for Congress against six-term incumbent William McKinley. That November John G. Warwick stymied the future president's bid for reelection, besting him 20,059 votes to 19,757. Warrington Warwick's "tact and general popularity were of the greatest assistance" during this period and were acknowledged in his Beta Theta Phi memorial, which notes they "contributed largely to the successful result of his father's campaign." Sources also denote W.K.L. Warwick as a member of the Ohio State Democratic Executive Committee, but no mention is given as to his dates of service. Following his service as a delegate to the Stark County Democratic Convention of 1892, W.K.L. Warwick was elected as part of the Ohio delegation to that year's Democratic National Convention in Chicago. Representing the state's 18th district, Warwick and fellow delegate John C. Welty may have been Democrats but were ultimately opposed to the nomination of Grover Cleveland, with the Stark County Democrat noting:
"In this district there was a most decided fight between the Cleveland and Anti-Cleveland Democrats in the selection of delegates and the most pronounced ant-Cleveland victory, both Warwick and Welty being opposed to any man from New York."
Warwick's sentiments toward a New York presidential nominee later changed, with his coming out as "an ardent admirer" of New York Governor David Bennett Hill. After Cleveland's nomination, Warwick was interviewed by the Massillonian, where he noted:
"Stark County Democrats never sulk...and we are solid for the ticket as nominated. Stark County will be at the front this fall with an increased Democratic majority. Of course Ohio is a Republican state, but we will worry them considerably before the election is over. The nomination of Stevenson for second place is highly satisfactory to the New York delegation, and to Hill men in this state as well. He is our kind of a Democrat, and will greatly strengthen the ticket throughout the country. I think this is a Democratic year, and confidently expect the election of Cleveland and Stevenson."
Just weeks following his time at the Democratic National Convention Warwick suffered the death of his stepfather John, who died in Washington, D.C. In the days following John G. Warwick's passing, W.K.L Warwick was bolstered to fill his vacant seat in Congress, with the Stark County Democrat noting "it would be a gracious and fitting testimonial to the memory of Gov. Warwick to elect his very worthy son, W.K.L Warwick, to fill out the unexpired term."
From the Stark County Democrat, September 1, 1892.
Ultimately, it was at the instigation of Warwick's friends that his name was bolstered as a candidate, and in November special election it was Lewis P. Ohlinger (a former Wooster postmaster) who won the vacant seat. Upon the death of his stepfather, W.K.L. Warwick succeeded him as president in the former's business interests. Until his own death in 1897 he was the president and treasurer of the Warwick Coal Co., was president of the Upper Pigeon Run Coal Co., was president of the Massillon Savings and Banking Co., and was a founding organizer of the Massillon Social Club. Warwick would be a partner in the firm of Warwick and Justus, a Massillon flour milling concern, and in the 1890s served as vice president and member of the Board of Directors for the Stark County Democrat newspaper.
From the Northwestern Miller, Vol. 43.
Warwick remained active in his business interests until his death. In the months prior to his death, his health began to fail, and by March 1897 had relocated to Hot Springs, Arkansas in the hopes of improving his condition. He died there on March 15, aged 34, his cause of death being attributed to "bowel trouble." The death of Warwick was heavily felt in Massillon and at his alma mater Kenyon College. Remarked as a man who possessed "many charming qualities of character", The Northwestern Miller further memorialized Warwick as:
"A man who could make a lifelong friend of a casual acquaintence, and, while in business circles, he was respected for his ability and honesty, he was loved by all and by people in every path of life for his many manly qualities and his own true worth."
Following funeral arrangements, Warwick was interred in his family's mausoleum at the Massillon City Cemetery and was survived by his wife and son John.
From the Coshocton Democratic Standard, March 19, 1897.