Mix McCoy passes; Otis Dillon dies; Blaze Starr author

Kyle’s Korner ….

My good friend and local legend Jimmy Wolford called me over the weekend to tell me that Joseph “Mix” McCoy, 86, died on June 26, 2015 at his home in Lexington, Kentucky.

Back in the mid-1970s, Mix and his brother “Tab” McCoy donated money to build the McCoy Athletic Center in their hometown of Phelps. The basketball gym is still being used today.

Mix was born in Phelps, Ky. he started working in coal mines in eastern Ky. and southern W.Va. In 1954 he and his brother Tab started their own mining company which evolved into Caney Branch Coal Company in 1960. After the company became successful in the 1970’s, they built the athletic complex for the students and community that they loved.

The brothers were friends with Cincinnati Reds baseball star Pete Rose. They brought him in for the dedication of the gym. That created quite a stir here in the area.

They were also instrumental in preserving and memorializing the lives of their ancestors who were involved in the Hatfield McCoy Feud and helped Wolford with his historic recording of his feud album.

… Rev. Otis Lynn Dillon, who owned a recording studio down in the Crum and Fort Gay areas, also passed away this past weekend.

Wolford said that Dillon was the owner of River Track Studio for many years where he recorded many projects that were popular in the bluegrass, gospel, and country industries. One person he recorded was Bluegrass legend Ralph Stanley.

The Rev. Dillon was a very accomplished musician himself. He was only 57 and was still living up in Wayne County.

… Wolford also recalls working with Huey Perry, who headed up a new program in Mingo County back in the mid- 1960s, the start of the EOC, the Economic Opportunity Commission. The EOC was a program that was established to fight poverty in Appalachia.

Perry grew up along Gilbert Creek in Mingo County and later taught history in high school there. Perry first wrote the book “They’ll Cut Off Your Project,” that spoke about corruption and politics in the county.

He later penned the book “Blaze Starr,” the famous and nationally known burlesque dancer from the Wilsondale-Breeden area. That book was later made into the movie “Blaze” starring Paul Newman.

Starr died recently and her death received national attention.

Perry still resides in Huntington, W.Va.

… If you haven’t watched the PBS documentary about Jay Rockefeller you might want to catch it on WPBY.

There are a couple of references to Mingo County in the film. One talks about when Rockefeller became Secretary of State in W.Va. and changed some of the political campaign laws. It also says how this helped rid five W.Va. counties of corrupt political bosses. In that segment it mentions the late Noah Floyd, a former State Senator and political boss in Mingo County and how this helped remove him from power.

The other talked about when Jay was governor and dealt with the devastating 1977 flood that hit the Tug Valley area. It shows Rockefeller walking down Second Avenue in the mud after the flood and looking up Logan Street. It mentions how he helped the county with the recovery.

Another still shot shows the Nolan Unincorporated sign with the old Nolan Grade School under flood water in the background.

Being from Nolan and growing up in this area during the late 1960s and early 1970s, this was all very interesting to me.

I think most locals will enjoy the documentary.

Whether you are a fan of Rockefeller or not, and many thought he was a “carpetbagger,” he did a lot for his adopted state of West Virginia.

(Kyle Lovern is the Editor for the Williamson Daily News. He can be contacted at [email protected] or at 304-235-4242, ext. 2277 or on Twitter @KyleLovern)

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