Ken Hechler, Ph.D.

Sense and Cents

Gibson and Hechler

A quarter of a century friendship with no disappointments

Have you ever met someone and immediately your personality and theirs is like one. You must admit this is a rare occasion and for some people it may only happen once in a lifetime. You can sense that your virtues and theirs are a mirror image. You are both passionate about your beliefs of right and wrong. You can feel the sincerity in their voice and see their soul with your heartís eyes.

Rare is only one word of many I can use to describe my friendship with Larry Gibson. In all my 98 years I have never had such a friend, a true friend who called a spade a spade and laughed his way through many a hard time. Never will there ever be such massive courage contained in a small stout man whose faith is likened to David who killed Goliath. He climbed his mountains and proclaimed his love for them to one and all. Gibson was the stuff Fairy Tale Heroes are made of, he inspired, encouraged and offered hope to every girl and boy, man and woman. He was the knight in shining armor that always rescues the damsel in distress, and his damsel was his beloved Kayford Mountain. A good author (who has children) should create a storybook about Larry that all our children could read and believe in. It would be a lasting tribute.

I could tell you volumes about Larry Gibson and his crusade, but I want this to be about our friendship because for those of you that knew Larry, most of what I would tell you would be repetitive.

Gibson was the kind of friend that a dog is to man, unconditionally devoted. His friendship ran to the depth of your core. Larry saw me as an intellectual, and I saw him as the KING of COMMONSENSE, someone once said, common sense is not so common; we were a pair, the two of us, me tall and lanky and him short and stout.

I was born with a silver spoon in my mouth so to speak, and Larry well he at times may have been just a spoon of food away from starvation. I have a file drawer full of accolades, letters from people who have admired me for one reason or another over the years, and for me it was easy to accomplish most of what I have to show for. But with Larry, his achievements were often life or death situations. He chose to live a meager life; he could have become a multi-millionaire overnight, by merely selling Kayford to the coal industry. His devotion to preserving his ancestorsí homeland coursed through his very veins. Seams of coal or not, he would see her through.

Larry knew people, he could sense their intentions. Good or Bad. He taught me more about real life than I could have ever taught him about political life. For a man who could have used his childhood struggles as a crutch, he chose instead to use each hardship as a step toward the victory he longed for.

I am sure you all have heard the expression Fine weathered friends, Larry never ever failed to respond to a call from me, and many times he changed his Foundation calendar of events to accompany me on some trip to a college or University. No matter what kind of snag we would encounter, Larry could figure out a way around it. With a sparkle in his eyes and laughter in his voice, he always worked things out.

I am a man who has truly lost his best friend; I will miss him more than all of you put together, except for Carol and his children, because you see he was like a son to me, like a brother to me. The Bible says there is a friend that sticks closer than a brother that was Larry. He never in his entire life ever asked me for anything for himself, not even when he went to jail. He didnít put much faith in the use of money where his own life was concerned, he knew of the riches he held in his heart and that was an overflowing fortune.

I told my secretary when she told me about Larry being gone, that I felt as though I had lost both my arms and both my legs, each day, little by little, I have some feeling coming back. I hope by October 14th, I will have regained my composure and will be able to give Larry the farewell he deserves. Ken Hechler




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