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Southern Journey Stories

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West Virginia

Bill Currey



Bill Currey has always been an ambitious doer. Born the oldest into a family of five with two sisters, his father ran the only Schwinn bicycle dealership in the entire state of West Virginia. While that venture was ultimately successful as it became the largest Schwinn dealership in the country, its nature ensured that the family was constantly moving around the state. Eventually, the family settled down in the western part of Charleston, the state capitol. Bill, as a youth, had learned the invaluable lessons that embody entrepreneurship.

Reality found Bill in his first year of university. Unprepared for the rigor of intense academic demands, he flunked out of school. Undeterred, after some travel he re-enrolled at a recently desegregated black school despite his Caucasian ethnicity. An athletic kid, he played sports as he had done in high school and after attaining certain academic goals, he transferred to Marshall U., his initial school destination. Bill had benefited from one of America’s gifts; a second chance.

Bill studied business but developed expanded horizons in art and mechanical drawing, skills he used as a stone sculptor in retirement. Following his junior year, he landed in Germany for a 14-week work/study program for which he was linguistically unqualified. Married in his senior year, Bill launched his career

in the field of PR as a lobbyist for a large utility company. Following requisite job changes typical of those intent on ascending, he landed a big job as FMC’s national PR Director. As environmental pressures closed in, he left FMC and went into business for himself. In that, Bill combined his lobbying skills with a new-found acumen for completing real estate deals until he retired. Along the way, Bill had three children.

As successful as Bill was in his corporate career, it could easily be said that he eclipsed that summit in retirement. The rivers of West Virginia are as expansive as they are ecologically, commercially, and recreationally vital. However, as long-time dumping grounds, their vitality had been severely compromised and were deemed the dirtiest in the nation. About twenty years ago, Bill, the avid paddler, and a few others started The Coal River Group. As its leader, Bill has helped transform the Coal River watershed into an award-winning entity. In January 2023, Forbes magazine published a list of the top 50 travel destinations from around the world. Tiny St. Albans, one of the towns along the Coal River, was included on that prestigious list. That accomplishment is in no small way attributable to the revival engineered by Bill and his team.

Bill’s life has been blessed with influential mentors who have played key roles in the story. However, like all people, he has encountered his setbacks in life. His parents divorced when he was a young man and he has been divorced twice. Furthermore, his grandson was born with a rare disease (von Hippel-Lindau syndrome) for which there is treatment but no cure.

Bill has lived a life of accomplishment. Despite the early academic setback, he ultimately made the most of his gifts and transitioned from chemical company executive to award-winning environmentalist. An extraordinary life!

Former Chemical Company Lobbyist Saves Rivers in WV


Nov 10, 2021

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