Category Archives: passings

The passing of a founding member

Betty MacQueen, a charter member of West Virginia Writers, Inc., passed away in her sleep this morning. According to her son, Steve, It was a very peaceful passing.

Her wishes  are for her body to be donated to the medical community thru the State of Virginia Anatomical Program.

A memorial service will occur in about a week.

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Another WVW loss

(This news courtesy of Renita Sue Lloyd.)

Joyce "Joy" Lackey, a resident of Richwood, author of Ghosts on Buffalo Creek, and a long time member of West Virginia Writers, passed away in her home on February 6. Her funeral arrangements are as follows...

Viewing and Visitation: Wednesday 6 to7 p.m.
Location: Waters Funeral Home, Summersville, WV
Funeral Day and Time: Thursday 11 a.m.
Funeral Services: Waters Chapel (in the funeral home)
Burial will be at the Montgomery Gardens in London, WV near Montgomery at 2 p.m. Thursday

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A family loss from one of our members.

(This news courtesy WVW's own Susanna Holstein)

Friends, sharing this because some have wanted to know. Jonathan was the second of my five sons.

Jonathan Scott Ford, 39, of Leesburg, VA passed away on February 2, 2010 from injuries received in an auto accident in Grundy County, Iowa.

He is survived by his wife of 17 years, Jennifer Effland Ford, daughters Jordan Ford-Smith, her husband Ethan Smith and granddaughter Cadyn Smith of Ripley, WV; Kathleen, Cassidy and Allison Ford at home, brothers George L. Ford and wife Cassandra of Maysville, WV, 1st Sgt Derek R. Ford of Ripley, WV, Aaron Ford and wife Jaime of Fairmont, WV and Larry T. “Tommy” Holstein of Morgantown, WV; parents Susanna Holstein and Larry Holstein of Sandyville, WV and George L. Ford Sr. and wife Bonnie of Front Royal, VA, as well as numerous family and other relatives. He was a member of The Worship Center Assembly of God in Leesburg, VA.

Jonathan was Vice President of Administrative Operations at Connelly and Associates, Inc. of Frederick, MD, working with his uncle, Walter “Tom” Connelly and cousins Sam, Emily and Eamon Connelly. He received his MBA from Shenandoah University and was active in many sports and community activities. He was a disabled veteran of the US Army with 10 years of active duty service including four years with the White House Communications Agency. He was an avid golfer, kayaker, runner, and never met a challenge he would not meet with enthusiasm, energy and creativity. He was devoted to his family, a strong supporter of his daughters’ interests and always available to lend a hand to friends, family, and neighbors. He will be greatly missed by the many people whose lives he has touched.

Visitation is scheduled for Tuesday, February 9, 2010 at 6:00pm at Loudoun Funeral Chapels of Leesburg, VA. Funeral services will be held Wednesday, February 10, 2010 at 11:00 am at The Worship Center, Leesburg. Interment will be at Union Cemetery, Leesburg.

The Jonathan Ford Memorial Fund has been established by Connelly and Associates. Donations may be made to: Jonathan Ford Memorial Fund, c/o Connelly and Associates, 260 Interstate Court, Frederick, MD 21704, or online at Call 1-800-864-6895 for more information.

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Another passing…

Kirk Judd alerted us that West Virginia has lost another of its best poets. Paul Curry Steele, originally of Charleston, died Monday, December 22, at the Edgewood Manner in Lucasville, Ohio. Mr. Steele was 81.

From his obituary in the Logan Banner: "Paul was the son of the late George C. and Tava Curry Steele. Also preceding him in death was a sister, Sybil Washington; a brother, George C. Steele Jr., and a nephew, Robson Sage. He graduated from the University of Virginia and obtained an advanced degree from the University of Iowa. Steele taught at George Washington University, was a published poet, and later worked at a library in Charleston."

Mr. Steele was the author of Anse on Island Creek and Other Poems, published by Mountain State Press. This was a seminal work which explored through poetry the life, character and eventual death of the notorious Hatfield family patriarch William Anderson "Devil Anse" Hatfield.

His work also appeared in Wild Sweet Notes: 50 Years of West Virginia Poetry 1950 - 1999. According to Kirk Judd, co-editor of that anthology, Steele was recognized as a great West Virginia bohemian poet.

Graveside services will be held Monday December 28, at 11 a.m. at Forest Lawn Cemetery at Pecks Mill. Condolences may be left at

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Keith Pitzer’s passing.

Received some sad news today from friend of WV Writers, Pops Walker, regarding the passing of another friend of our organization, Keith Pitzer.

Pops writes...

Friends and loved ones….

It’s with a heavy heart that I write to you today, for we have lost a great friend and performer, Keith Pitzer. Keith passed on this morning after a courageous fight with cancer. His wife Joan, and his four grown sons mourn the loss of their loved one, as do I, Bobbi, and anyone who knew Keith.

I first met Keith in 2003 at the Mountain Stage NewSong Festival. After hearing him play, and jamming with him, I knew I’d found a kindred musical spirit. After talking with him for a while, I knew I’d met a dear friend.

He and Joan played at two of our events at the river, and another at the performing arts center in Luray. Each performance was special, and folks who had the good fortune of listening to them walked away richer for the experience.

We shared some stages together in West Virginia, and while on the road in that region, the Pitzer farm became our home-away-from-home. His hospitality was warmer than a fresh buttered biscuit, right out of the oven. And when dinner was done, and the dishes put away, the instruments came out. My oh my – did we have fun. Some of the best music I ever played was with Keith – he was such an accomplished musician, he brought out the best in me. And we laughed. Oh, did we laugh. I love him for it.

While driving today, taking care of some Christmas errands, Bobbi and I were amazed by the amount of snow still on the ground from this past weekend’s blizzard. We saw many cars still snowed-in, and many by-roads that looked impassable. Bobbi mentioned that it reminded her of Keith’s instrumental, “Loudon County Snow”. He wrote the song some years ago while at Drew McKnight’s place. They were snowed in that weekend and hadn’t much else to do except play music. Apparently, the snow brought out something deep within Keith’s soul. If you’ve ever heard him and Joan play it, you’ll understand. Quite simply, it’s a masterpiece of picking. How strange, and perhaps fitting, that he passed while so many of us were snowed in again.

There will be no public ceremony for Keith in the coming days. Rather, Joan and the boys will mourn with loved ones for a while, and in the Spring, host a celebration of his life at the family farm that he so dearly loved. As Joan told me this morning, Keith wouldn’t want a mournful event. Rather, a celebration is in order. And the timing of Spring will be just right. It’s a time of new life. No, gentle people, we don’t have a date yet.

One last thing … Keith was the Executive Director of “Friends of the Cheat”. The Cheat River in West Virginia had been abused and pillaged by industry for years. “Friends of the Cheat” are dedicated to restoring it and protecting its future. Keith took his job seriously and loved that river. So, rather than flowers or sympathy cards, I ask you, on behalf of Joan and the boys, to send a small donation in Keith’s honor to:

Friends of the Cheat
119 South Price Street
Suite 206
Kingwood, WV 26537-1478

I can hear Keith’s voice now – “Shucks Pops, just a couple of bucks each from a slew of caring folks could make a big difference”. You’re right, Keith – it would.

He was one of the gentlest souls I’ve ever met, and having him for a friend made me a richer man.

Your friend in loss,

Pops Walker

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