WILLIAM ORBA (BILL) BOLT
Oct. 5, 1923 - Sept. 26, 2015
William Orba (Bill) Bolt, age 91, of Coalwood, WV, passed away September 26,
2015 at his residence. He was born October 5, 1923 in Coalwood, WV.
He was the son of the late Fielden and Pocahontas Faris Bolt. He
was a graduate of Big Creek High School in 1941. Bill retired from Olga
Coal Company after 43 years of service. Also a proud WW II combat Navy
Preceded in death in addition to his parents; a son, Steven Bolt.
He is survived by his wife, Reba Compton Bolt, three daughters, Debbie Bolt
Bowman (Tim) of Beckley, WV; Jennifer Bolt Phillips (Kenny) of Coalwood, WV
and Anita Swearingen Bolt of Green River, Wyoming. One sister, Jean Bolt
Farmer (Melvin) of Winston Salem, NC. Grandchildren: Kristee Phillips,
Matthew Phillips, W.T. Bowman, Brian Bowman and Shawn Bolt. Five Great
Funeral services will be conducted Tuesday, September 29, 2015 at 11:00
A.M. from the Fanning Funeral Home Chapel in Welch WV. Entombment will
follow at Grandview Memory Gardens Mausoleum in Bluefield, VA. With military
rites conducted by VFW Post 1144 of Iaeger, WV. Friends may call Monday,
September 28, 2015 at Fanning Funeral Home Chapel, Welch from 6 to 8 P.M.
Memorial donations may be made to Coalwood Community Methodist Church,
HC 31 Box 972, Welch, WV 24801.
Pallbearers will be Grandsons: Matthew Phillips, W.T. Bowman, Brian
Bowman and Shawn Bolt. Two Great Grandsons: Derek Stamper and Tyler
Christian. Fanning Funeral Home of Welch is serving the Bolt family. Online
condolences may be sent to the family at
[Randy Stripling played the character Leo Bolden
in the movie October Sky.
Bill Bolt was the real life inspiration for Leo Bolden, the machine shop
We are sad to report the death of Red Carroll, lifelong resident of
Coalwood, and father of Rocket Boy Jim Odell Carroll. Red passed away
on January 8, 2011. He will be missed!
Read tribute from Steve Date:
Read obituary from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph:
Elsie Gardener Hickam
Sadly, Homer and Linda Hickam are reporting the death of Homer's mom, Elsie:
"Elsie G. Lavender Hickam, 97, died peacefully at her home in Myrtle Beach,
South Carolina, Wednesday, October 7, 2009. A family memorial and release of
ashes on her beloved beach will be planned for later in Myrtle Beach.
"Elsie was a grand lady, and did things HER way to the end. She loved being made
famous in the Coalwood books and the movie October Sky, and she said if
she had known that was going to happen, she would have stayed "thinner and
prettier." She had a particular love of animals and especially cats. Her white
Persian feline companions Thomasina and Tom Tom were a joy to her till the end."
[Thomasina and Tom Tom have been adopted by friends.]
Please click here to read Elsie's obituary.
(Opens in Microsoft Word)
here to read article from the Bluefield Daily Telegraph.
Photo by Charlie Myers, October 2006
Dr. Stuart McGehee
The obituary below is from
The Sunday Gazette Mail, Charleston, WV
January 14, 2010
Prominent West Virginia historian dies
By Staff reports
CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- The founder of one of West Virginia's most
comprehensive archives on the state's coal history, Charles Stuart
McGehee, died earlier this week.
McGehee, 55, was the founder of Bluefield's Eastern Regional Coal
Archives, a professor of history at West Virginia State University, and
the author of five books on West Virginia. He died Tuesday.
"Stuart was an absolute treat for the state of West Virginia and the coal
industry," said Bill Raney, president of the West Virginia Coal
Originally from Birmingham, Ala., McGehee started his career in West
Virginia at Bluefield College in 1985, and quickly became one of the
leading historians and voices of the state's coal history.
"The great thing about Stuart was he didn't grow up here," Raney said. "He
came here and it seemed to intrigue him and he captured the real character
qualities of the legacy of West Virginia and why we are who we are."
McGehee was the author of five books and more than 50 articles that
appeared in national and regional publicans.
He also appeared in "West Virginia: A Film History" and the History
Channel's "Modern Marvels" series, in addition to several PBS
He attended the University of Tennessee-Chattanooga and the University of
Virginia for his master's and doctorate in American history.
McGehee was also chairman of social sciences at Bluefield College and
chairman of the history department and dean of social sciences at WVSU.
"He found the value, the romanticism, the camaraderie and the family
togetherness in the coalfields," Raney said. "He captured the heart of the
people. I can't image there not being a huge void because he was a very
McGehee was also a member of the band Bluestone Wildcats.
There will be no memorial service. The family asks that instead of
flowers, a donation be made to the Craft Memorial Library, 600 Commerce
St., Bluefield, WV 24701.
Link to the obituary above.