Well-known local business man, musician, and civic leader Pete Sternloff (right) is pictured with Bluefield State College President Robin Capehart during Tuesday’s announcement heralding the “Pete Sternloff Center for West Virginia Musicology at Bluefield State College.”  The Sternloff Center will archive and promote the unique, diverse history of music created and performed in southern West Virginia.

Bluefield State Establishes Sternloff Center for West Virginia Musicology



President Robin Capehart announced today a major gift that fulfills a key measure of the College’s mission to be an active partner with the regional community.

The Pete Sternloff Center for West Virginia Musicology at Bluefield State College will archive and promote the unique, diverse history of music created and performed in southern West Virginia. The Center will fill a much-needed gap in the preservation of and education about music that flourished here among the cross-currents of cultures that converged when railroads arrived and the mining of coal exploded.

Initial funding for the Center is a $200,000 gift from local businessman and blues musician Pete Sternloff. Additional funding will be sought from supportive individuals, foundations and grants.

President Capehart said, “We are extremely grateful to Pete for kickstarting something that has been needed here for a long time. The Sternloff Center fits perfectly within our Strategic Plan of bonding the College and the community closer together. We know we have a responsibility as an educational institution to gather, preserve and present a musical tradition as vibrant as any in America. The Sternloff Center now gives us the means to do just that.”

Pete Sternloff added, “This fulfills something I’ve dreamt about and talked about for a long time. I’ve had the opportunity and play with some of the finest blues and jazz musicians in the country right here in Mercer County. I knew how much talent we had, many of whom went on to successful careers nationally and internationally.

“I also knew that Bluefield State was the only institution capable of bringing the resources to bear that would ensure that these musicians and their music were gathered in one place where others could study, enjoy, and, most importantly, build upon.”

The Sternloff Center will be housed in a wing of the William B. Robertson Library.

Bluefield State College Librarian David McMillan commented, “I’m delighted to welcome the Sternloff Center. This represents the kind of interactive, multimedia, multi-platform resource that we want the Robertson Library to be. I look forward to working with Pete as we plan what is going to be a very special space on this campus.”

The Center will open formally by the summer of 2022. It will operate as a non-profit 501c (3) foundation under the direction of the College.

Pete Sternloff is an owner and partner in the Ye Olde Ugly Duckling Antiques and Rare Books in downtown Bluefield. Prior to that he had a successful career as an innovative marketer in the auto and trucks parts supply businesses. He has been a performer and promoter of blues, jazz and blue grass music for decades in Mercer County. He is a native of Mill Valley, California, and a graduate of the University of California Santa Barbara. 

Donald “Pete” Sternloff, grew up in the San Francisco Bay Area. He was married to Patricia Sternloff for 44 years until her death in 2008. They have one son Scott Sternloff and three grandchildren.

Mr. Sternloff served as an officer the United States Air Force from 1963 through 1967 and was discharged with the rank of Captain. A Vietnam Veteran, Mr. Sternloff received the Bronze Star for Meritorious Service in a combat zone while serving in Vietnam. Mr. Sternloff served in various sales management capacities in the heavy-duty truck parts industry including as a National Field Sales Manager.

Mr. Sternloff moved to Bluefield, WV in 1989 to help develop a new business with Bill Cole’s Truck City Parts and DS Parts that involved establishment of a company that supplied remanufactured air brake, electrical components, water pumps and brake shoes for heavy trucks.

In addition, Mr. Sternloff served as IT Director for Cole Automotive Group, and assisted in the establishment and creation of Cole Motorsports, a company that supplies windshield tear-offs for the racing industry throughout the world. Mr. Sternloff also served as a member of the Bluefield, WV Board of Directors for four years. He is one of the three founders of Gary Bowling’s House of Art and owner of East River Arts.

Mr. Sternloff is also a member of the American Legion, a life member of the Vietnam Veterans of America, a life member of the Veterans of Foreign Wars and a life member of Disabled American Veterans. Mr. Sternloff is a former president of the Bluefield, WV Lions Club and an active member of the Downtown Merchants Association as well as the Downtown Neighborhood Association.


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