JUNE OF 2007


The founders of the Coal River Group were unique guys. They were close friends, yet totally different in so many ways. They had lived their lives separately through multiple marriages, different careers and held totally different philosophy’s about everything from unions to navigation. They were strong guys physically as well as mentally. The two came together after a lifetime apart in a bar called the CAFÉ in St. Albans, West Virginia.

They formed a bond that lasted through the rest of their lives. It was the river that brought them together. Not the Coal River, but the Kanawha River. They loved boating and life on the river. Both had large motor cruisers and loved to party. They got together late in life through a piece of luck and, of course, a beer was involved. Once they started talking they never stopped.

The many adventure trips they shared throughout the early years allowed them the time to discuss many different topics. Like many have said about Ocean travel, “Trips on the blue water involve hours and hours of boredom, punctuated by seconds of terror.”

They loved the comaradra, they loved the debate, they respected each other, and most importantly they trusted each other. The Coal River project evolved in an unplanned way but  gave the two mavericks a way to express their creativity in ways they could never have imagined.

Sadly, Bill Queen died unexpectedly in an automobile accident in Greenbrier County, West Virginia in June, 2007. The accident was caused by a canoe on top of his ancient Ford Bronco breaking loose and when Bill tried to control the vehicle  it hit a ditch and then a power pole.
The important thing for folks to remember is that Bill was on his way to join friends and fishing for the weekend. He just loved to fish!

Bill Queen was a major force in the development of the Coal River Group. He was devoted to the concept that the Coal River could be restored and returned to a river that people could safely swim. He did the research that helped identify where the e-coli problems were.  He provided the all-important balance to Currey who had his own ways of dealing with issues and projects.

The legacy that Queen left for his family and the world was his unique sense of humor, his flair for drama and his huge open heart that loved everyone, except those who chose to attack the value of unionism.
Bills life was complicated but his devotion to cleaning up the Coal Rivers was unquestioned.

When Bill died, his good friend and neighbor, John March, who worked for the WV DOH sign department, asked Currey to help him get a bridge named for “Walhonde Willy” Bills favorite nick name.

Currey went to his good friend and CRG supporter, Ed Hamrick, for help. A resolution was presented and approved by the WV Senate and House to name a major bridge on Corridor G in memory of Bill. The four lane bridge crosses appropriately the Little Coal River.  Once approved, a ceremony was held at the site and the sign was installed for perpetuity. It reads: Bill Queen, Jr. (Walhonde Willy) Memorial Bridge.

The impact that Bill Queen made on the work of the Coal River Group cannot be underestimated. He was a major force that helped shape the group forever. We miss him.