Thousands Mourn Keeper of the Mountain Larry Gibson, and the Appalachians He Defended from Mountaintop Removal
"Larry was one of the strongest, kindest, most dedicated peaceful warriors for justice I've ever known in my life," said Rory McIlmoil, a West Virginia-based coal and clean energy analyst. "And that no matter who you were, or which side you were on, Larry's smile, his laugh, and his compassion would remind you that we're all human and that we should care and fight for each other. I'm definitely going to miss Larry Gibson."
"The world is better for all Larry did to try to ensure a future hope for besieged and blasted generations of Appalachia," said Bob Kincaid, president of the Coal River Mountain Watch board. "At Kayford Mountain, he was among the first to show the world the ravages of Mountaintop Removal, making real and immediate and undeniable the coal industry's most dirty secret. Where I'm sure he is, I know the waters run clear and cool, and the air is no longer choked with dust, and Larry smiles in leisure well-earned."
"For those who love mountains, Larry was a god," wrote Rob Perks, with the Natural Resources Defense Council in Washington, DC. "There was no one like him, a man who literally put his life on the line to keep the coal industry from stealing our shared legacy. His spirit will live on in our continued fight to end The travesty of mountaintop removal."
"Larry's endlessly inspiring efforts and words are exemplary of a true hero," noted Chelsea Marie Ritter-Soronen, a St. Louis-based artist who took part in Mountain Justice and direct action protests in West Virginia. "Like many, I'll never forget the first time I heard him speak about mountaintop removal, it simply changed my life."
"I'm heartbroken to hear about the passing of Larry Gibson," said Scott Parkin, with Rainforest Action Network. "He was an uncompromising force, a relentless voice that spoke truth to power and put his body on the line. Every time I saw him speak, he moved the audience to tears and then to action. Once you learned about his story and his fight against mountaintop removal, you were hooked. You wanted to move to West Virginia and join him. He recently told a crowd in Charlotte, NC 'They tell us we're collateral damage, well I ain't collateral damage. I am somebody. My name is Larry Gibson.' Now we're all Larry Gibson."