The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


February 25, 2014

Obituaries — Tuesday, Feb. 25, 2014

James Bickford

FAYETTEVILLE — James Franklin Bickford, 69, of Fayetteville, passed away Saturday, February 22, 2014, at Hidden Valley Center, Oak Hill.

Born on March 15, 1944, at Beckwith, he was the son of the late Robert and Fannie Holly Bickford.

He was a retired mill worker at Helstrom Steel Mill in Chicago, Illinois.

Besides his parents, he was preceded in death by his infant brothers, Bobby and Tommy Bickford, and brother, Ronnie Bickford.

Left to cherish his memory include his wife, Bonnie Bickford of Fayetteville; son, Jimmy Wayne Bickford; brothers: Charles (Mary “Snookie”) Bickford of Hilltop, Leo Bickford of Chicago, Ill., Jack (Margaret Ann) of Oak Hill, and Leonard (Anna) Bickford of Minden; sisters: Frances (Jerry Jones) Giles of Beckley, Trudy Bickford of Fayetteville, Louise (David) Gillespie of Beckwith, and Lisa Gaye (Jerry) Bess of Pinnacle, N.C.; and many nieces, nephews, family and friends.

Funeral services will be held at 12 noon on Wednesday, February 26, 2014, at Dodd-Payne-Hess Funeral Home, Fayetteville, with Rev. Ken Souder officiating. Burial will follow at the Adkins-Pate Cemetery in Crow Hollow at Beckwith.

The family will receive friends from 11 a.m. until time of service at the funeral home.

For those wishing to express their condolences to the Bickford family, you may do so by visiting our website at

Dodd-Payne-Hess Funeral Home at 350 W. Maple Avenue, Fayetteville, will be assisting the family.

Elizabeth Betty Plumley Burdette

FORT SPRING — Elizabeth Betty Plumley Burdette, 78, of Fort Spring, passed away Sunday, Feb. 23, 2014.

Arrangements by Lobban Funeral Home, Alderson.

John J. (Joe) Childress

John J. (Joe) Childress of Daniels celebrated his entrance into God’s Kingdom, and can now play golf with beloved friends who preceded him at Heaven National Golf Course.

Our very special Husband, Father, Grandfather, Brother, Uncle, Cousin, Mentor, Golfing Buddy, and True Friend passed away peacefully in the early morning hours of Thursday, February 20, 2014. He graced us with 73 unique and wonderful years. His family was by his side and with him throughout his life.

He was born on December 11th, 1940, in Richlands, VA, and was the son of Henry and Ruth Childress.

While in grade school, his family moved to the Pineville, Wyoming County, area. Throughout his life, he was very proud of being from this area, and cherished the many friendships that he has kept from growing up there.

Joe was a 1959 graduate of Pineville High School / Vocational Technical Specialization, and while working in the construction field, he was inducted into the United States Army. He served his country proudly, attaining the rank of E5 in the 3rd Armor Division, stationed in Germany.

Prior to his military service, Joe and his life soul mate, the former Catherine (Kitty) Gunter of Pineville, had gotten married. Also during this period, their first son, John J. II (Joey), was born. After completing his tour of duty, Joe re-entered the workforce, being employed by Roberts & Schaefer Construction Company. His work experiences as a Field Services Manager allowed him to be involved in multiple functions of coal processing design and construction services that resulted in his attachment to many state-of-the-art coal processing facilities, and allowed him to expose and show his family the world with stays in multiple states as well as Canada and Turkey. It was during this period that their second son, Jay Robert, was born.

Having a growing family, and wanting to establish a family home base, Joe and Kitty planted roots in Beckley, and Joe started his own venture into providing coal processing construction services in the coalfields. His planning, hard work, and determination resulted in a successful private business history. He was one of the first in the coal processing industry to design and bring to fruition plants that utilized the “Feed to Zero” Heavy Media Circuitry. He designed and patented the first of its kind MULE (Moveable Unit Low Elevation) coal processing facility, a design that still hasn’t been duplicated in the coal processing industry.

Over the course of his professional career, Joe was involved in the design, construction, and ownership of over 35 Coal Processing Facilities around the world. He enjoyed every experience, and always felt there was something to learn from each and every one. He especially cherished the industry leaders that he got to learn from and work with, and used those experiences to help teach, mentor, and show some paths to so many associates who to this day work in leadership and lifetime positions in the coal industry.

With Kitty and his two sons, Joe enjoyed and learned from each and every day’s experiences. He “never gave in,” and always found a solution. These traits showed through as he engaged in his most recent health battle. He was a “Man’s Man,” never had an enemy, always helped others, and cherished so much his family, his friends, and enjoying all life had to offer. Joe C. always said, “If you are gonna go, go first class .... just don’t go as often!”

He loved to play golf, especially with his sons, grandsons, and all of his CAT game buddies at Glade Springs; spend time with Kitty at their second home area, the St. Petersburg, Fla., region (especially watching the sunsets), watch his special grandsons play sports, tell stories (all were true and so funny), watch and root for WVU teams, talk about experiences in the coal industry, and enjoy fun times with all his buddies and loyal friends. He was the highly successful Owner and General Manager of the Childress Corp. 13-15-year-old Babe Ruth Baseball Franchise, and enjoyed watching every player that came through over a 10-year period. And he loved to Parasail with his grandsons.

Joe was a very proud inductee into the Pineville High School Hall of Fame (1996), one of the first originators of the Coal Preparation Society of Southern West Virginia, and was a member of Glade Springs. Joe and Kitty attended the United Methodist Temple church in Beckley.

Joe was preceded in death by his parents (Henry S and Ruth E Childress), his in-laws (Hobart and Ina Gunter), his half brother William (Bill), his half sister (Becky), special niece Joella, and his grandson (Adam Joseph).

He is survived by his loving wife of 53 years, Catherine (Kitty). Joe and Kitty enjoyed life to the fullest, and are the gold standard in making a life together.

He is also survived by his two sons and their special families: John J. II (Joey) and Janie of Frisco, TX, and Jay Robert and Nicole, along with their sons, and Pa’s Special Grandsons Jarrett, Chase, and Cooper. They are the twinkle in Pa’s eyes, and he loved playing golf with them, and listening to their “tall tales.”

He is also survived by a brother, Steve (Doris) of Rock Hill, SC, and his Childress nephews (Steve, Alex, and Tony). As well, he is survived by the Gunter family, who all grew to love him, and he to them as well.

During his fight over the past three (3) years, Joe showed true grit and determination in fighting this fight “head on,” and we saw that in him each and every day.

The family would like to thank all those that have helped in some way. The Doctors and Staff at the Raleigh Regional Cancer Center (Beckley), the Moffitt Cancer Center (Tampa, Fla.), the nurses of Hospice of Southern WV, especially Courtney, and Lori; his adopted  “daughter and son-in-law” Dr. Dick and Lora Daniel; so many very close friends, and two very special ladies, caregivers, and “family” to all of us: Sharon Daniel and Becky Lilly.

He left a legacy of truth, loyalty, love and friendship. We miss him so, but rejoice in knowing that he is enjoying God’s Blessings, and is smiling and laughing for sure.

A Celebration of Life and Heaven Party will be at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, February 26th, 2014, at Blue Ridge Memorial Gardens and Mausoleum with Pastor Larry Halsey officiating. Visitation will be from 6 to 9 p.m. on Tuesday, February 25th, 2014, at the Funeral Home.

Pallbearers honored to carry Joe are his sons, Joey and Jay, his grandsons Jarrett and Chase, his nephew Mark Gunter, his special friend and business partner John Stroud, and special caregivers and “partners in crime” Sharon Daniel and Becky Lilly. Grandson Cooper is an Honorary Pallbearer.

In lieu of flowers, and according to his wishes, a scholarship fund has been set up for his grandsons at Childress Education Fund c/o Mark Gunter: Chase Bank, 500 Neville Street, Beckley, WV 25801.

Online condolences and other tributes are available to the family via

Arrangements with Blue Ridge Funeral Home, 5251 Robert C. Byrd Drive in Prosperity.

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