WILLIAMSON - Since 1972 and the first annual King Coal Festival, the legacy of crowning a Mr. King Coal has continued to be a highly anticipated portion on the events, and the winner has always felt that it was an esteemed honor to be chosen for this award.
Each year, members of the community are asked to submit a recommendation letter naming a retired or disabled coal miner from the Tug Valley area they feel are deserving of this special recognition. There are rules and regulations regarding the competition, with the main stipulation being that the chosen winner is the oldest candidate nominated.
During this year’s September 40th Annual King Coal Festival, the Action in Mingo (AIM) Group has made special plans to honor previous Mr. King Coals, or their family members if the winner is now deceased.
The suggestion was made during an AIM meeting earlier this year, with all members agreeing that these distinguished miners deserved to be acknowledged not only for their win, but for the many years of mining service each of them contributed to the Tug Valley area.
On Saturday, September 16, during the crowning of this year’s Mr. King Coal and the naming of the Humanitarian and the Community Service awards, former Mr. King Coal winners will be seated in front of the stage area and will be introduced to the crowd while being presented with a special certificate in honor of their past accomplishment. Should the previous winner be deceased or unable to attend, family members are encouraged to stand in their place.
Beginning with the 1st Annual King Coal Festival in 1972, the Daily News is publishing the following list of Mr. King Coal winners. They or a member of their family are encouraged to contact one of the AIM members whose numbers will be listed at the end of this article to confirm whether they wish to participate in the honor ceremony.
Columbus C. Avery, 1972; Whitt Collins, 1973; William Derring, 1974; Ken Stollings, 1975; Henry Doss, 1976; Hallie Pack, 1977; William Dexter, 1978; Alex Ritchie, 1979; Frank Guyton, 1980; John Cody “J.C.” Willis, 1981; Breatha Beatty, 1982; Sam Henry, 1983; Banks Williams, 1984; Pat Teeters, 1985; Harvey Moore, 1986; Sam Politino, 1987; John Alexander, 1988; Appy Thacker, 1989; Monroe Johnson, 1990; Ira Miller, 1991; Harvey Perry, 1992; Reece Varney, 1993; Arthur Baer, 1994; Seymour Jewell, 1995; Rev. L.C. Howard, 1996; Victor Powers, 1997; Herbert Savage, 1998; Charlie Reed, 1999; Clyde W. Dotson, 2000; James Ray Kilgore, 2001; Ira Goble, 2002; Hursle Reed, 2003; Earl “Red” McCown, 2004; Roy Dotson, 2005; Zeph James, 2006; Howard Branham, 2007; Robert Huff, 2008, William Barger, 2009; Arnold “Doc” Runyon, 2010 and York Smith, 2011.
For more information on the ceremony planned to recognize past Mr. King Coal’s you may contact AIM President Mae Stallard, 304-235-5560; Treasurer Larry Brown, 304-235-1510, Secretary Machele McCormick 304-235-0312, or AIM members Connie Rockel, 304-235-0105 or Rachel Dove Baldwin, 304-235-4242 ext. 18.
The next meeting of the AIM group is scheduled for this evening at 5 p.m. on the 2nd floor of the Williamson Fire Department and all members are encouraged to attend. With the 40th Annual King Coal Festival a little more than a month away, Stallard emphasized the importance of these planning and organizational meetings.