Keeper of the Mountains Foundation reported that long-time environmental activist Larry Gibson died of a heart attack on September 9 while working on Kayford Mountain, the family home in West Virginia, which he spent the last decades of his life protecting from Mountaintop Removal coal mining. “Larry changed thousands of lives, and will forever leave an empty space in these thousands of hearts,” writes Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign.
The Keeper of the Mountains Foundation website notes:
Larry Gibson has been fighting for his mountain, calling for an end to the destruction of the Appalachian Mountains through Mountaintop Removal coal mining for more than the last twenty years. He is an internationally known voice who has been named one of CNN’s “Heroes”, has appeared on ABC’s 20/20, appeared before the United Nations, and has spoken to thousands of community, church, and university groups across the country. He has most recently been honored by Ohio Citizen Action, which awarded him the 2010 Enduring Courage Award.
Mary Anne Hitt, director of the Sierra Club’s Beyond Coal Campaign, writes in a heartfelt tribute (The mountains weep for Larry Gibson):
… Larry was always a welcome sight, from the halls of Congress to the hollows of Appalachia. As social media will affirm in the days ahead, Larry changed thousands of lives, and will forever leave an empty space in these thousands of hearts. Including mine.
… Even while he became a public figure, he kept his feet on the ground in Kayford, and his focus on building the movement, one new person at a time. If you stood with him, shoulder to shoulder, and stuck with the fight, you would earn Larry’s friendship and respect, and sometimes that alone kept people going in the struggle to end mountaintop removal.
I always imagined that, when we celebrated the end of mountaintop removal, Larry Gibson would be there. I can’t believe Larry won’t be alive to see the abolition of the coal mining practice that was – and still is – destroying the mountains and communities he loved.
Now, we are going to have to do it for him. …
RIP, Larry Gibson: Longtime mountaintop-removal activist dies on mountain he loved (Grist, September 10)
Larry Gibson remembered for passion to protect mountains (West Virginia State Journal, September 10)
And see this movie: “The Last Mountain”
Some earlier CSW posts: