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Chris Cline's philanthropy knew no bounds. In fact, a lot of it isn't well known and, according to life long friend and high school football teammate Jody Cook, that's just the way he wanted it.

One thing many knew, especially those who knew him best when he was growing up in the small community of Brenton, was his competitive spirit.

That was what drove the billionaire to become the businessman that he was.

"Everything that Chris did, he wanted to be the best," his childhood friend Cook said. "Chris was really into Motocross when we were growing up and he wanted to be the best motorcycle rider there was. When we played football, he wanted to be the best. When we played pickup basketball in the summer he wanted to be the best. And there was a carry-over effect in the world of business. He had a competitive spirit that was second to none."

Cline, a coal tycoon, was one of seven passengers killed when the helicopter they were flying in crashed off the coast of the Bahamas on July 4. They were bound for Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

Among the others killed in the crash were his daughter Kameron, 22; David Jude, the helicopter pilot; Delaney Wykle; and two unidentified friends.

Cook recalled that competitive spirit in the football game when both were playing for Baileysville back in the 1970s.

"He suffered a broken collarbone and would not come out of the game," Cook said. "He flat refused to leave that football game until it ended. That was the kind of guy that Chris was."

He was also the kind of guy who gave to causes he believed in, especially to those in his home state and his his alma mater, Marshall University.

Cline donated millions of dollars to Marshall.

"Chris's generosity to our research and athletics programs has made a mark on Marshall University and our students for many years to come," Marshall President Jerry Gilbert said in a statement.

He also was a driving force in building the Paul Cline Memorial Youth Sports Complex (named for his father Paul) in Beckley and establishing the Big Brothers Big Sisters location in Beckley.

But he seemed to live by the saying that long before there was billionaire Chris Cline, there was Baileysville's - or Brenton's - Chris Cline. It was something that Cline never forgot. That included friends, especially those in need. And he asked for nothing in return.

In 1989 Kenny Cook, Jody's brother, fell during a job and suffered a broken neck.

"I will never forget that day, it was Feb. 6, 1989, and I was coaching a game in Baileysville, we were playing Herndon when we got the call," Cook recalled. "There was nothing they could do at Raleigh General so they were transporting him to U.Va. (Medical Center). Chris found out about it and called and told me to pack a bag and meet him at the airport in Beckley. He had a plane waiting for us (his brother J.B and his wife Phyllis)."

"He even flew us out to visit him," J.B. recalled. "We'd fly from Kee Airport (in Pineville), and they'd have a cab waiting for us. (The cab driver) would ask when we wanted him back and then we would fly back. We've never forgotten that and we are very appreciative of that."

Cook said earlier in the week he had been experimenting with social media.

"One thing I always did was send Chris a message on his birthday, which was today (July 5)," Cook said. "On Tuesday and Wednesday I was tinkering around with sending a video. I wanted to send Chris a funny video for his birthday. I didn't get to do that."

For all the philanthropy done over the years, born out of genius for business, Cook will recall his friend of several years the way they always were.

"We all grew up together from middle school, high school," Cook said. "There were six or seven of us (in their group). We had a lot of good times. We had a good childhood."

"They were all really close," J.B. said. "There were many times when Chris' mom would call down in the morning and ask if Chris was in Jody's and Kenny's room and sure enough, there he was."

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