Joe “Bug” Marcum, 53, of Laurel Creek, was one of 29 miners killed when an explosion occurred because of high methane levels in the mine.
Marcum’s funeral was held Sunday, April 18, at the Victory Christian Center in Lenore. Members of five area volunteer fire departments, Matewan, Kermit, Lenore, East Fork and Delbarton, brought trucks to help with traffic control as well as to pay homage to Marcum, who was a charter member of the Lenore Department.
Brenda Evans of the Lenore Department said she had been at the church Friday and Saturday nights as well as the funeral service, helping to direct parking.
“There have been hundreds of people. At least four hundred both nights [of the visitation], and hundreds here today,” she said as she directed vehicles into the lot.
Attendance to the church services was so high many people had to park at other churches and be bussed to the Victory Center.
The Rev. Terry Blankenship addressed a full church at the funeral service. A coal miner himself, he said he is proud of West Virginia miners and all they have contributed to the country.
“We have been mining coal here for 100 years,” Blankenship said. “Miners have lived, died, and raised their families with livings they made in the mines.”
Blankenship did not speak about the controversy surrounding the disaster, but rather focused on how much Marcum will be missed by his wife, Kathy, and daughters Kathy Jo and Garnet.
“Money doesn’t matter,” Blankenship said. “If it was a million, two million or thirty million dollars, it is not enough. There is an empty place that can never be filled.”
Mingo County Commissioner David Baisden, a friend of the family, said as horrible as the explosion was, it could have been worse.
“Thirty one men got out of the mine,” Baisden said. “We could have been burying a lot more miners.”
He said the entire community is grieving for Marcum.
“It is a sad time for Mingo County,” he said. “Our hearts are broken.”