The Passing of an Old Friend

Last week Ed Cantley, an old and dear friend died after a long battle with liver disease. Nobody was ever to pin down the exact cause; Ed never drank or had any other reason to have his liver fail, but that was the eventual cause of his death. There is a picture of him in a suit and tie in Bonnie Collins’ picture album; I bet that was the first and last time he ever wore one. I wonder if it was for prom or graduation? I was hoping he would get to see it, but I guess that didn’t happen.

So long, old friend.

More work on Bonnie Collins’ album and a comment on the mine disaster

I have begun to put the captions on Bonnie’s pictures. I have about 150 done so far. Many of the remainder are obituaries and interesting news articles.  Any help on the identities of some of the mystery people would be appreciated.

Although this is a picture site, I want to take this opportunity to express my sincere sympathy and sorrow for the families of the miners killed in the Upper Big Branch mine at Montcoal. Between high school and college I worked at No. 7 during the summer. Armco Steel owned the mine then (weren’t those the good_old_days?) and had given me a $3000 scholarship to attend WVU. In those days, WVU’s total cost was about $1800 per year, so that money went a long, long way. I never forgot Armco’s kindness and generosity, and at my father’s urging I wrote to Mr. Bill Verity, company president, after medical school to thank him, receiving a nice letter in return.

As of this writing only seven names have been released. To my great sorrow, one was my oldest and best friend, Deward Scott, with whom I had many fine adventures as a teenager (many of which I don’t think I should write about – some of those people are still living!) My heart goes out to his wife, Crissie and his brothers – Dallas, George, Danny and Greg, as well as his children, Jennifer and Daniel, and their mother, Joyce – also one of my oldest and dearest friends.

I also want to express my admiration for Governor Joe Manchin, who acted as spokesman and public face to the press and the world. Because of his enduring many sleepless nights and days the families were shielded from the prying eyes of the press.  He deftly deflected all the “who should we blame” questions and kept the press focused on the only topic that mattered:  we had family in that mine, and nothing else was important until we got them out – whether alive or not.  And when I say family I mean exactly that; we are all family, no matter what our blood relation.  Thank you, Governor; you are not in my party, but I shall surely help you in any capacity I can should you ever need or want it – of course at no charge.

That’s how we Hillbillies are.

More Blog Capabilities

Again thanks to my friend Kyle, we have installed reCaptcha, which prevents the spammers and Viagra salesmen from filling this blog with advertisements.  If you want to comment on a blog post, feel free to do so.  When you want to add a comment, a box will pop up with two easy-to-read words.  Just type them in and we are in business!

This blog is meant to be a place where the blog owner can put up news and information.  As of right now,  I will be the only person who can write articles on the blog itself.  As the site expands, I will have other folks who are helping me do posts on various topics.

The Bulletin Board (“Bulletin Board!” tab at the top of Coalriverpix homepage) will be open to everybody to communicate with each other (when I get the time to get it up and running!).


New pictures, newspaper articles and obituaries by Bonnie Collins

Many thanks to Bonnie Collins Janney, my old childhood friend, for providing me with nearly a thousand pictures, old newspaper articles and obituaries from many years ago.  Much of ths had been saved by her brother, Larry, who had passed away.  I knew Larry personally and have to say he was one of the kindest and gentlest fellows I ever knew.  He died in his late thirties, I believe, from a completely unexpected heart attack.  His – and Bonnie’s – father, June Collins was a close friend of mine; both he and his wife, Thelma, were devastated by Larry’s death; I don’t believe they ever recovered.

Bonnie graciously allowed me to take this irreplaceable material to my office in Virginia, where it sat for many months before I was able to get started on this daunting task.  There was so much data that I finally gave up and hired an employee to spend the many, many tedious hours to scan and catalogue this priceless material.  The files are now up; I will work on the captions identifying the people.  That may take quite a while and I’m sure there will be many we don’t know; any comments helping us identify them will be gratefully accepted.  Thanks again to Bonnie for allowing me to scan and publish these pictures.

Jim Wills

Blog for

Hi –

We have had several requests for a medium of communication on Coalriverpix, so members can post comments and ask questions about pictures.  I am trying a blog software called WordPress.  It has several advantages, including flexibility and security.  The disadvantage is that each member has to be given privileges to make posts.

I am also looking at a “bulletin board” software called PHPBB, which is quite a bit more complicated to set up, but lets anybody post comments or start new topics.  I’ll let you know how it goes!