Adrian and Dot Gwin
An Album to Celebrate Their Lives
Adrian Sutton Gwin
(12 Sep 1916 - 7 May 2001)
SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM FOR DOT'S ACCOUNT OF THEIR MARRIAGE.
Above: 1931, age 14 if taken before September12
or 15 if after
Above: Dot's senior yearbook picture, Malden High School, 1932. Inscription: Dorothy Lee Keeney, "Dot", "The answer to a teacher's prayer"; Charleston High 1-2-3; Vice President Library Club1; Chorus Club 1; Class Poet 1; Curtain and Mask Club 2-3; Class Play 4
Below: Dot shares a memory with a Malden High classmate at a MHS reunion. They graduated in 1932, so this must've been their 60th in 1992, since she's in her wheelchair.
Below: How 'bout that--here's Adrian's picture at age 16, taken the summer of 1932 only weeks after Dot graduated!
Below left: age 17 in New Orleans; right: at Troop 49 Court of Honor, New Orleans--new Eagle Scouts
Below, left: The reason Dot was in New Orleans in 1942 was to take a summer class at Tulane, which class required her to work at the Jewish Children's Home (where this picture was taken). Tulane, the Home, and Grandmother's boarding house (where she lived and met Dad) were in close proximity to each other. Below, center: Their honeymoon was at Bay St. Louis, Mississippi. Below, right: Taken shortly after their wedding (11 Aug 1942), possibly in New Orleans (where they were married), in Mississippi (where they honeymooned), in WV (where they lived for several months in late 1942), or even Texas (where he was stationed in 1943).
SCROLL TO THE BOTTOM FOR DOT'S ACCOUNT OF THEIR MARRIAGE.
Clockwise, from above:
Up Witcher's Creek, 8 Apr 1945;
sitting on the old bridge at Aunt Maude's home,
Tad, WV, 1943;
ready to eat dinner at "5218 Chinaman Rd.
14 Aug 1945"
(l-r:) Nile Norton, Sarah (unk.), Opal Norton,
Dot and Adrian Gwin
Below: Dot and firstborn (b. 29 Oct) on 7 Nov
Above left: Dot on a fencepost in 1957; right:
playing carols one Christmas in the late 1950's at 2304 Monroe
Below: Adrian doing some research at the Daily Mail's "library"--1950's?
* 14 Nov 1979 at the
* At the Daily Mail the day after the 17-14 defeat by Tulane University of WVU--30 Sep 1974
* At 7 Keiffer on 4 July 1991 below the flag he defended and loved to fly daily--"On my honor I will do my best to do my duty to God and my country, to obey the Scout Law, to help other people at all times, and to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight."
* A block from Mahala Morris' home at Indian Harbor Beach, FL, Winfried Szodruch commented, "For heaven's sake! Dot is everywhere!
* Eagle Scout Adrian Gwin stands on the Old Main Street Plaza in full Boy Scout uniform (it was "National Boy Scout Uniform Day"), wearing his patches from the two National Jamborees he attended--1937 and 1977--waiting to photograph the speaker of the day, U. S. Air Force General John Jackson of St. Albans.
Above: Grandma with Courtney and Lauren, April 1992;
Below: Dot and Milly, Steve and Jeff, Jeanne and Linda, after Mike's wedding
Above: knitting in the dining room at 7 Keiffer;
Below: Keiffer neighbors enjoying Keiffer neighbors--
Jean Burgess (#8), Dot (#7), Hugh Aeiker (#5)
Below: Thanksgiving 1994 with Jim and Nancy Thompson and Jo Helen's husband and sons
Above: April '92 puzzler
Below: Scrabble buddies!
Above: Thirteen of us home for Christmas one
Below: Kinfolk at the fiftieth anniversary party at Highlawn Baptist Church, August 1992
|l-r, seated on floor: Bennie
Kevin Gertz, Mary Chloe, Mack Keeney, Pat Gwin, John
Gwin, Charity Gwin, Melanie, Sarah Gwin, George Keeney,
Vonda Gwin, Jessica Szodruch; row 2, seated on/in chairs: uniden.
(blue print dress), Katie Gwin, Dot Gwin, Courtney Gwin,
Adrian Gwin, uniden. (sitting on his lap), Sharon Gwin;
row 3, standing:
uniden., uniden., Buster Keeney, Juanita Keeney, Suzanne
Gertz, Kristen Gertz, Jeannie Smith, uniden., Becky
Samples, (Opal Norton?), uniden., (Chuck Keeney?), Lynn,
uniden., Hannah Keeney, Eileen Austin, Milly Keeney, Guy
Corey, Dolly Corey, Frankie Keeney, uniden., uniden.,
The following obituary appeared in the Charleston Daily Mail:
Page 1A, Charleston Daily Mail, May 7, 2001
'Looking Back' columnist Adrian Gwin dies at 84
By Charlotte Ferrell Smith
of the Daily Mail Staff
Adrian Gwin, longtime Daily Mail reporter and columnist, died early today after a long illness at Memorial Medical Center in Las Cruces, N.M.
He was 84.
Gwin was known for his many talents from writing and speaking to performing feats of gymnastics. He had a fierce love for life and energy to match.
"Adrian personified what was right with life," said Sam Hindman, publisher. "He loved every aspect of being able to meet, greet and embrace people in his many years with the Daily Mail.
"No one loved life fuller or loved his wife, Dot, and family more than Adrian," Hindman said. "He was an example for all of us in work and play."
Gwin and his wife, Dot, moved to Las Cruces in November 1999 to be near his older son John and his wife, Sharon.
"It's good to know he's in heaven, bad he's gone," said Sharon Gwin, who admired her father-in-law's sense of humor.
He told her he had no use for computers or algebra and saw no reason why there should be 25 shades of the color red.
Daily Mail Editor Nanya Friend recalled Gwin's aversion to computers. Gwin started work at the newspaper in 1942. When Friend arrived in 1977, Gwin had already achieved special status on the staff and his name was a household word.
"Computers had recently arrived in the newsroom, and Adrian would have nothing to do with them," she said. "He was such a great storyteller that the editors didn't mind. They let him keep his typewriter, and someone else transferred his stories to the computer."
While Gwin's sense of humor was unmatched, he took his job seriously.
Earl Benton, retired photographer, began working at the Daily Mail in 1943.
"Going with Gwin on an assignment was the most exciting thing in the world," Benton said. "We worked as a team. We both agreed we would pay a newspaper to let us work. People don't understand how much we enjoyed it."
Benton recalls jumping on a firetruck with Gwin on the way to a blaze. Gwin, known for his great agility, once removed his shoes and scampered up a bridge beam with Benton's camera in tow to get a flood shot.
"Gwin was very spry well into his 60s," said Bob Kelly, former Daily Mail city editor and current political editor. "On occasion, he would demonstrate for the much younger crowd in the newsroom. Standing still beside a desk, he would leap into the air and somehow position himself so that he came to a perfect landing, in a graceful crouch, on top of the desk."
Friend added, "I've also seen him walk across the newsroom on his hands. I'll never forget the day he turned his eyelids inside out and lay down on the floor next to the city desk. He wanted to get a rise out of the usually unflappable Bob Kelly, who was then city editor."
Gwin worked as a reporter and writer for the Daily Mail until his retirement in 1981. Until his death, he wrote a weekly column called "Looking Back."
Gwin, author of the books, "Rovin' the Years With Our Man Gwin," "Never Grow Old" and "Once Upon Ago," was known for his ability to spin what he called "yarns" and was a respected public speaker.
"Gwin could go out in any direction from Charleston, spend a day, and come back with three or four yarns, as he called them," Kelly said. "These would be the product of his unique way of looking at things and people and his ability to engage people and get them to open up to him."
The Rev. Leroy Keeney, retired pastor of Highlawn Baptist Church in St. Albans, said Gwin was a charter member of the church, which was founded more than 50 years ago.
"He was a Sunday school teacher, a good swimmer and a good gymnast," Keeney said. "He worked with children a great deal. He taught kids how to whistle. He worked with the Boy Scouts for years and helped them with merit badges."
John Gwin added that his father "was a lifetime member of the Scouts. He registered continually every year." Gwin achieved Eagle Scout status in 1937 and once said he "tried to live as an Eagle Scout every day."
He said 1942 was a big year for his father. That was the year he graduated from Tulane University, got married, moved away from home for the first time, got his first professional job working at the Daily Mail, and got drafted into a shooting war.
He served in the U.S. Army and was a World War II veteran. He was a native of Selma, Ala.
Also surviving are son Patrick of St. Albans and five grandchildren.
The body is to be cremated. Arrangements are incomplete.
Writer Charlotte Ferrell Smith can be reached at 348-1246 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Copyright©2001 Charleston Newspapers Interactive
From the Las Cruces Sun-News, Tuesday, 8 May 2001, p. A6:
Newsman-columnist Adrian Gwin dies at 84
Adrian Gwin, longtime reporter and columnist for the Charleston (W. Va.) Daily Mail, died here Monday after a long illness at Memorial Medical Center. He was 84.
A native of Selma, Ala., Gwin was a 1942 graduate of Tulane University. He worked at the Daily Mail from 1942 until his retirement in 1981, except during World War II when he served in the Army.
Until his death, he wrote a weekly column called "Looking Back." Gwin also wrote several books, Never Grow Old, Rovin' the Years with Our Man Gwin, and Once Upon Ago.
Gwin was known as much for performing feats of gymnastics as he was for writing. He once removed his shoes and scampered up a bridge beam with a camera to get a flood shot. In the newsroom, he sometimes jumped onto desks and walked across the room on his hands.
He was a charter member of Highlawn Baptist Church in St. Albans, an Eagle Scout, and a lifetime member of the Boy Scouts.
Gwin and his wife, Dot, moved to Las Cruces in November 1999 to be near his oldest son, John.
Also surviving are son Patrick of St. Albans and five grandchildren.
The body is to be cremated. Arrangements are incomplete.
Page 9a Charleston Daily Mail May 7, 2001
He learned you can't go back home again.
By Adrian Gwin
EDITOR'S NOTE: Longtime Daily Mail columnist Adrian Gwin had asked that this be his final column.
YOU'VE heard it. You've read it. It's true. You can't go back home. Look, and go home, but "go back home"--never.
It won't work.
In youth, you could go home anytime you were away. Rarely was there no home to go to. Oh, some so-called "homeless" turn their backs on home.
And somewhere along the line, you learn that you can't go back home.
Once, as a boy, I was with my mother in the car in our old community neighborhood, when she turned off the beaten path.
"I'll just drive by the old home place and see it after all these years," she said. "I'm goin' back home."
Way out that dirt road we stopped before an old house with a lot of rotting gingerbread trim. Mother sat in the car, just looking. "That's the place all right--but it's not home."
We talked to the people there--shabby, ignorant-sounding. Mother wouldn't go inside. Back at the car, she said, "Let's go home."
This time, she was just going home, not going back to the ghost of the place where she had spent the first 25 happy years of her life.
I remember when Dot and I first realized that our children didn't come home when they visited us after marrying and starting families.
"Home" to our house one time on a visit from their New Mexico residence, John and Sharon said one day, "We're going home tomorrow."
Up 'til then, we had felt they'd be leaving home to return to New Mexico. Now it was more than obvious they'd be leaving our house and going home--their home.
More than 60 years ago, I learned something else about going home.
It was 1934, in Anniston, Alabama.
A stranger came down the sidewalk by our house. He was old, bearded, shabby, and marked by the calluses and scars of a rough, relentless life. But he looked clean.
He saw us on the porch, Mother and four young people. He stopped his shuffling gait before us. In a broken voice, he said, "Madam, I hate to beg, but I'm about famished for something to drink. Could you by chance give me a cup of milk?"
Mother held open the screen door and she invited him into our dining room. "We have a cow," she said, "and milk is our strong point."
We children all rose and went inside with them. I was fascinated by the old man's appearance--worldly, courtly, immeasurable.
Mother offered a piece of leftover chicken and two cold biscuits. I poured a tall glass of cool, rich milk and sat it before him. He bowed his head and murmured, then drank eagerly. I topped the glass with more.
He ate the biscuits and piece of chicken slowly, gracefully, gratefully. He sipped the milk, savoring it fully.
We didn't learn who he was, but we asked questions. Where was he going?
"I'm goin' home," he said. "I was raised down ..." His voice dropped, became husky, trailed off. He cleared his throat, sipped the milk.
"Left a long time ago. Been lots of places. Been gone a long time." The voice was low, barely audible, but he was talking to me. I heard him distinctly.
"Now I'm goin' home."
He didn't say going back home. Just going home. Then he straightened up, raised the milk glass as if it were a champagne goblet. Raised it to me.
"Here's to a long life," he said.
I was beside him when we went to the porch. He said to Mother with a courtly little bow, "Thank you." Nothing else. Just a sincere thank-you.
Stepping out to the sidewalk, he looked again at me.
"Yes, I'm goin' home."
They found him next morning beside a trash bin in an alley downtown. He was covered with old flattened-out cardboard boxes, for what warmth they would afford.
Mr. Lucas, the town policeman, said, "Now you look at that. You'd almost swear that's a smile on his face."
Copyright©2001 Charleston Newspapers Interactive
Mom took her last breath and slipped into Jesus' presence a little after ten on Tuesday morning, 31 May 2005. Jeremy and I were there for quite a while the night before. She was asleep then, but her breathing was labored. I was exhausted, too, so I prayed and asked God to keep her alive so Pat could say goodbye to her the next morning when I called him.
I got back early Tuesday. Her breathing was still labored and she was still asleep. Her hospice nurse was there. I called Pat, but he had already left the house, so I got to speak to Milly, and Milly got to say goodbye to Mom while I held the phone to her ear. Mom never awoke, but I played some of her favorite hymns for her on the little battery-powered organ she had bought on Courtney's sixth birthday. I prayed that she'd hear them and rejoice at her imminent entrance, then ended with the Hallelujah Chorus.
Praise God with me that she is there with Him and not in hell! So many people do not take advantage in this life of the Lord Jesus' offer of salvation--of living forever with Him in heaven. But Mom and Dad did, and I know where they are now. They took God at His word and trusted Him to save them. If you've never read God's promises to you, on behalf of Mom and Dad, I beg you to do so. Read any or all of these passages, then ask Him to save you, too, not because of who you are or what you have done, but because of who He is and what He has done for you.Romans 6:23--For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.Dad's and Mom's (and my first) home church, Highlawn Baptist Church of St. Albans, WV, hosted memorial services for them both. His was held in May 2001, hers on 11 June 2005. Thank you again, Dr. Joe Hyde, Terry Harvey, Dan Cain, Dot Bowyer, Mary Britt, and the many other brothers and sisters at HBC (including Dr. LeRoy Keeney, now in heaven also!) who helped us with these memorials.
John 3:16--For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.
John 5:24--Truly, truly I say to you, he who hears My word and believes Him Who sent Me has eternal life, and does not come into judgment, but has passed out of death into life.This word believe has two different meanings:(1) to give mental assent andThe first is the definition as in James 2:19 where it says that "the demons believe--and shudder"! The second is the definition as in the two verses above.
(2) to know.
The second is often explained by using a chair in which one has never sat. When asked if he believes that the chair will hold him up, the answer is yes, because that's the purpose of the chair, and one can see that it's built of sturdy materials, etc. But this type of belief is the first--mental assent--not the second. One cannot say he believes in the second sense until he sits in the chair, committing himself to it entirely. If the chair falls, he falls with it.
If you're not sure if you know God personally yet,
here's a link to help you understand better how to do just that.
Two eulogies read at Mom's memorial service:
My name is Cindy Dunlap Ellis. I knew Dot Gwin for 55 years. Her family and mine were friends.
Wasn't Dot a beautiful person? I don't mean Hollywood beautiful, but the kind of beautiful that lasts and lights up a room for a lifetime.
One of the primary sources of her beauty was her giving nature. She gave me this little pin. She gave me any number of small tokens during my childhood. But the best things she gave me, and all of us around her, were intangible.
Dorothy Keeney Gwin gave us the joy of humor. She reveled in word plays, silly jokes, and sweet family stories. She even told some on herself, laughing at her own sometimes prickly and persevering personality, such as the one that ended with an exasperated fellow faculty member at Spring Hill Junior High exclaiming, "Dot Gwin, I'm just gonna tape your mouth shut!"
Dot gave us the gift of the unexpected. What could be more exciting to youngsters on a quiet street in St. Albans in the 1950's than to have someone whirl in with questions like, "Who wants to go to the ballgame? Who wants to go to the movies?!"
Another gift was the appreciation of family. From her extraordinarily loving relationship with Adrian, to her care and concern for relatives of all ages, to introducing you to whatever nieces or nephews she had within her life at any given time, Dot showed that family comes first. This is not to say that it was her nature to be sloppy with hugs, kisses, and lovey-dovey words. Dot showed us that family and friendly love takes many forms, and I knew that her words, "Well, hi, Cindy-Belindy," were as heartfelt as a hug any day.
For those of us who are teachers because of her example, Dot Gwin showed us the pleasures and magic of educating others. She made it look easy and fun, and she continued teaching for the majority of her whole adult life. Even in retirement, when the effort of teaching could not have been easy, she found opportunities to share her gift of making classes have a spark of joy.
I'm grateful that I was part of her life. I'm glad Dot blessed me with so many gifts and that my family and I got a glimpse of her beauty.
Cynthia Dunlap Ellis, Red House (Putnam County) WV"Climb the mountains and get their good tidings." ---John Muir(John and Pat, I hope you got word that Dave and Robin tried to be in touch. Love, Cindy)
I had the privilege of knowing Dot for about 45 years. I knew her in many different roles--church worker, friend, mother-in-law, and as a grandmother to my three children.
I very much enjoyed Dot as a mother-in-law. As soon as John and I were married, New Mexico became our home, so my visits with Dot were few but memorable. I always enjoyed the talks she and I had. She was a wonderful story teller as she shared her life experiences. She often made me wish I had been there with her in her college days.
Adrian and Dot and our family took lots of vacations together, covering the US from California to Florida and so much in between. Dot’s most favorite way to remember a trip was by the places where we ate and a coffee cup purchased from each place whenever possible. I thank her for all those great trips.
She was a wonderful grandmother to Jeremy, Charity, and Sarah. She always made sure they had fun. She allowed them to skate in the basement at 7 Keiffer Drive and turn that room into their own special place whenever they visited Grandpa and Grandma. Long walks, pancakes made into their names, and seeing who could make the lifesaver last the longest are just a very few ways I’ll remember Grandma Dot.
Our family was very blessed to have Dot and Adrian with us for the last few years of their lives. It was a privilege to have them around all the time when our children were reaching their young adult years.
I loved Dot so very much. I know she was ready to be released from her body that had kept her captive for the last few years and especially the last year or so. I look forward to seeing her in heaven. In 2 Corinthians Paul speaks to believers about when they die how good it will be to be absent from the body and present with the Lord. And that is where Dot is now--present with the Lord.
I found a saying on a card a long time ago, and it now comes to mind as I think of Dot: “The sorrow of your leaving is but a moment long, but the joy of your being here is forever.”
I love you, Dot.
The following obituary appeared in the Charleston Daily Mail and the Charleston Gazette (I've since added the links):
Dorothy Lee Keeney "Dot" Gwin, 90, of Las Cruces, NM, formerly of St. Albans, WV, died May 31, 2005, at her home in Las Cruces.
She was born February 10, 1915, in Charleston, a daughter of McDonald Keeney and Mamie Chloe Stanley Keeney.
A retired art teacher with Kanawha County Public Schools, having taught at Spring Hill Junior High School for most of her career, she also briefly served as Art Supervisor for the KCPS. She received her BS degree from Marshall College in 1936 and her MA from Marshall University in 1970.
She was married on August 11, 1942, to Adrian Sutton Gwin, who wrote human interest columns for many years for the Charleston Daily Mail and also published several books.
They were both active at Highlawn Baptist Church in St. Albans for most of their married lives, where she served as arts and crafts instructor at dozens of summer church camps and Vacation Bible Schools and sang in the choir. Slowed down by a paralyzing stroke in 1988, she continued her ministry by teaching the Special Education Sunday School Class.
Dot was an active member of the Civic Club of St. Albans and the Highlawn Mothers' Club. A lifetime member of the National Education Association, she represented Kanawha County teachers at annual conventions all over the United States. She was a talented bridge player and played regularly with friends and some of the best players in the Kanawha Valley.
Preceded in death by her husband and three sisters, Maxine Harless of Lewisburg, Hannah Keeney of Witcher, and Helen "Benny" Metheny of Virginia, she is survived by her two sons, John and his wife Sharon of New Mexico and Pat of St. Albans; one sister, Mildred Keeney of Belle; two brothers, Albert "Buster" Keeney and his wife Juanita of Belle and George M. Keeney and his wife Frankie of Hurricane; five grandchildren: Courtney G. Schott and her husband Neal of Knoxville, TN; Jeremy Gwin of Las Cruces, NM; Charity Pihlaja and her husband Beau of Chicago; Lauren Spurlock and her husband Charles of Camp Lejeune, NC; and Sarah Johnson and her husband Jason of Las Cruces, NM; two great-grandsons; and thousands of cousins, nieces, and nephews scattered over the county, the state, and beyond.
A memorial service will be held at Highlawn Baptist Church, 2304 Jefferson Ave., St. Albans, on Saturday, June 11, 2005, at 11:00.
Cremation has taken place. Interment of Dorothy's and Adrian's ashes will be made in Witcher Creek Cemetery at a later date in a private ceremony.
In lieu of flowers, the family suggests any contributions be made in her name to:Special Education Class, Highlawn Baptist Church, 2304 Jefferson Ave., St. Albans, WV 25177
I'd told Mom shortly after Dad died in 2001 that I thought it would be good to scatter some of his ashes in Alabama where he was born and raised, some in New Orleans where he went to high school and college and met her, some in New Mexico where he'd lived his last year and a half, and some in WV where they had lived over 50 years of their lives.
Due to Mom's dementia, I had expected her reply to be something like, "That would be nice."
Instead, she sat up straight in her wheelchair (a rare occurrence), looked me straight in the eye (even rarer), and rather loudly and VERY emphatically said, "You will NOT. You will bury both his ashes and mine together at Witcher Creek Cemetery."
I smiled and said, "Yes ma'am, that's EXACTLY what we're going to do!" And she put her head back down on her pillow on the table, and that was that. We never spoke of it again. We didn't need to.
A day or two after Mom's memorial service, Pat and I found Hannah's grave at the Witcher Creek Cemetery and buried Mom's and Dad's ashes together there.
From Charleston, go east on I-64 to the Midland Trail exit which will put you on old Rt. 60 east, which follow up the river--past Campbell's Creek, Malden, DuPont, and Belle--to Witcher.
Turn left--north--and take Witcher's Creek Road about a mile or so to the large cemetery on the left. Pull in and park at the first gate, the one facing Kanawha River. This is a flat part of the cemetery; the hill, also covered with graves, is directly behind (north of) this flat, lower part.
Mom and Dad are buried about 80-100 feet NORTHWEST of this NORTH-facing gate. (At the gate, turn half to your left--at an oblique angle.)
There is no marker yet, but their ashes are buried atop Hannah's grave which is clearly marked with a flat, double-wide stone (for her and Milly) marked KEENEY, then, smaller, their names on their respective sides, with the word SISTERS in between.
Below: the gravestone looking back down that oblique angle (southeast) toward the gate and the car parked where I told you to park.
Below: Facing 45 degrees to the left from the above picture--east--toward the fence, Witcher's Creek Road, and the creek:
Mom's and Dad's ashes are buried under the boxes in which they came from the crematorium. (The boxes are no longer there but were only used for reference in these pictures.)
Adrian Gwin Street,
connecting Old Highway 411 with New Highway 411 (Weiss Lake Boulevard), Centre, Cherokee Co., Alabama
Gwin Note: I'm quite sure this street was not
named for my father, Adrian Sutton Gwin; nevertheless, it's
fun to know that it exists!]
Patrick Forsythe Gwin
(14 Feb 1951 - 19 Feb 2008)
Pat was my only brother. The younger of the two of us, he attended school at Highlawn Elementary, Shawkey Elementary, McKinley Junior High, and St. Albans High School (graduating in 1969) and West Virginia State College at Institute, WV.
At McKinley he played basketball, and at SAHS he ran cross country.
As a boy, Pat attended Highlawn Baptist Church in St. Albans and played church league basketball for them as well.
He also swam competitively in the summers for Highlawn Pool in St. Albans where his family were members.
He was active in the Boy Scouts, not only with me as a member of Troop 50 at Highlawn Baptist but also of a local Explorer post. A scouting highlight for both of us was spending ten days on the trail on the expedition to the national scout ranch, New Mexico's Philmont, in June and July of 1966.
In the fall of 1970 he married Sheryl Ruffner, and they had two daughters, Courtney and Lauren. When Pat and Sherry divorced, the girls moved to Huntington with their mother but visited Pat regularly in St. Albans.
His career working with hazardous chemicals at FMC in Nitro spanned some twenty years. He stayed with them until the plant sold out and shut down.
Pat loved to bowl, golf, and shoot pool and basketball with friends all over the valley. Camping and hunting were favorite pastimes. An expert marksman with many firearms, he was also an avid gun collector.
All his life, he loved to read. He was one of the most well-read people I know. He also was not-a-little obstinate, especially when he knew (or believed he knew) he was right. Once, in high school, he respectfully disagreed with his history teacher who had mistakenly stated that the U.S. had been unable to get any planes into the air to defend Pearl Harbor in the infamous 1941 attack. Pat had done some outside reading and knew the story--and the names--of the two pilots who actually did participate in the battle. The teacher asked if he was calling her a liar. "Well, if you put it that way, yes ma'am, I guess I am." He got sent to the office, and Mom had to go down and bail him out. Years later, Mom was watching Ted Koppel interview on Nightline one of the pilots who had indeed managed to get airborne. She was so excited that she looked up the number and called the teacher, by then retired (not only from teaching but also for the night!) just to tell her Pat had been right! I wonder where Pat got that obstinance...
Pat married a second time in 1987 to Vonda Sigmon Mitchell, a South Charleston elementary school teacher. After their divorce, he became the primary caregiver for our aunt, Mother's only surviving sister. When Milly finally had to move into an assisted living facility in Charleston before Christmas 2007, he continued living at her home until his death some weeks later.
Thanks, everyone, for the many cards, emails, and calls of condolence. We'll always miss him.
The following obituary appeared in
the Charleston Gazette and
the Charleston Daily Mail
on 22 Feb 2008:
Formerly of St. Albans, Patrick was a lifelong resident of West Virginia. A 20-year employee of FMC, he spent his last years as a caregiver for his aged aunt in Belle.
He was preceded in death by his parents, Adrian Sutton Gwin and Dorothy Lee Keeney Gwin.
Surviving are his daughters, Courtney Elaine Schott and her husband, Neal, of Knoxville, Tenn., and Lauren Elissa Spurlock of North Carolina; brother, John Gwin and his wife, Sharon, of Las Cruces, N.M.; two nieces and a nephew and their spouses; three aunts and an uncle; and hundreds of cousins and other friends in the Belle and St. Albans communities and throughout the state and nation.
In keeping with the family's wishes, the body has been cremated.
Fidler & Frame Funeral Home, Belle, is in charge of arrangements.
Date: February 28, 2008
To: "John Gwin" <email@example.com>
Subject: Pat Gwin
This is the how I'll always remember your brother. It was taken in 1983 on my first visit to your parents' house [i.e., at 7 Keiffer Drive, St. Albans, WV]. What a handsome guy he was. May I ask what caused his death? Or is it too private to ask? Anyway, my thoughts and prayers are with you and his children and everyone who loved him.
Obituary Guestbooks at Charleston Newspapers:
I was sorry to hear about Pat. He was a treasured friend from kindergarten on up. The Gwins (John, Pat, Dot, and Adrian) always made life more fun in my earlier years. Tom Jackson 2008-02-28
Lauren and Courtney (and families). So sorry to hear about your dad. We shared stories a number of times at the cafe in St. Albans, and he spoke of such pride for his daughters. Remember, he was an inspiring friend, and I'm sure the same with his daughters. All of you are in my prayers. Take care. Barbara Johnson 2008-02-27
Just wanted to say thank you to everyone for everything you've said. I miss him more than anything but I believe he's living the good life now! I'm also really sorry for all of you as well; you've all lost a friend (or cousin, there're a lot of us!). Thanks for thinking of us. Courtney 2008-02-26
John, Lauren, and Courtney, I am so sorry for your loss. I loved your brother/dad as a great friend and take comfort in knowing that he knew that. I will always remember his beautiful smile and what a goodhearted man he was. May God Bless and Comfort You. "Miss Zenda" 2008-02-26
God Speed Pat. Our sympathy to the family. Pat always challenged me on how fast I could complete the Sunday crossword or how many books I had read lately. He will be remembered for all the happy times in his life. Carole and David Shortt 2008-02-26
Dear Courtney and your family: We were so sorry to hear of the passing of your father. Please let us know if there is anything that we can do for you. Kelley, Michael, Kevin, Julie and Lois 2008-02-25
Pat we will really miss you. You are a special person. Dannny and Carla Hancock 2008-02-24
Dear John, Courtney, Lauren and family, Our thoughts and prayers are with you during this difficult time. Pat was a wonderful cousin, and I loved him dearly. I will never forget all the fun times I had at their house growing up. Love, Cathy Dan and Cathy Norrell and family 2008-02-24
To the Family: We were so saddened and shocked to hear of Pat's passing. We are so sorry. Pat used to come and sit in the summer mornings and have coffee with the two of us and tell stories for hours. We miss those happier times. Our hearts go out to you. Tom and Pam Thursack 2008-02-24
So sad for Pat to be gone, but he sure had the best parents you could have; they were wonderful and oh ever so exciting and talented!!!!!!! Rex Roberts 2008-02-23
Our deepest sympathy to the entire family. I was with Pat from the first grade to graduation and even Sunday school. I will always remember his sense of adventure and his aliveness. When I worked at the state house during the summers, I remember sitting with Adrian, and I remember their family car with the sticker of every state they had been in. A great family! Susan Snodgrass LeRose Susan Snodgrass and Larry LeRose 2008-02-23
Sorry that I don't know any of you, but I want to say to his daughters that I feel so bad that this happened. I was a neighbor of his on Orchard Ave. Yes, he was a very good man. My heart goes out to you. Susie Smith 2008-02-23
We just wanted John, Courtney and Lauren and their families to know that we mourn Pat's passing with you and pray that you know that God holds Pat in his loving hands. We hope you will know that we choose to remember Pat and you in a happier time. May God comfort you in this difficult time! Love, Randy and Suzie Randy and Suzie Humphreys 2008-02-23
Thank you everyone for your kind wishes and words. My daddy was a great man and I will miss him forever. Lauren 2008-02-23
So sorry about Pat; I worked with him at FMC for 19 years and he will be missed. He was a "one-of-a-kind" ... so smart and so full of personality. Jeanne Hewett Skipper, Melbourne, FL Jeanne Hewett Skipper 2008-02-23
Dearest Courtney & Lauren, I was so saddened to learn of your dad's passing. I will hold both of you and your families in my heart and prayers. In the meantime, I'll picture the joy felt by Dot and Adrian when they welcomed their youngest son home. With love, Kris Dunlap 801 Washington Avenue Nitro, WV 25143 Kris Dunlap 2008-02-23
I am so sorry to hear about Pat. He was my neighbor here in Belle...He was a very quiet man. He will surely be missed... April Young 2008-02-23
Dear Family, My heart goes out to you at this time. When I was growing up, my almost-brother Pat put many a smiles on my face. May those smiles continue, now, up in Heaven, with Dot and Adrian. Love, Robin robin dunlap elley 2008-02-23
My condolences to the family. Pat was a dear friend during high school, and although we went separate ways, I thought of him often and remember his unique spirit. Kay Jordan 2008-02-23
There are no words that could adequately express my deep sorrow for your loss. Your entire family was more than loving and giving to me, and I will always keep you close to my heart. May God bring you peace in this most difficult time. Vonda 2008-02-23
Pat told me of fond memories of times with friends, fishing
by a river, on a camping trip to Maine, or other hours spent
outdoors. I'm thinking of him now, by a warm splashing stream,
or by a campfire under a starry sky. Sending every deep wish
for their peace in their own memories to John, Courney,
Lauren, and all. Cindy Dunlap Ellis
John: Was saddened to read of the passing of Pat. I know he
had some rough times and will never forget him and the good
times we had during our childhood. Mac Gray Mac Gray
John, I worked with Pat at FMC, Nitro. He was in the plant
and I in the Lab. I remember him talking about you and your
years in the service. He told me about your mother's ability
to play several bridge games at once. He showed me a ring
that he wore that was a puzzle and I think you may have
given it to him. We worked together for twenty-eight years,
so even though we seldom saw each other there were many
short conversations. I am so very sorry about his passing.
There were many fellow employees who were very upset at the
circumstances of his death. My late condolences, I didn't
know until a week afterwards. He was a good, decent man and
it was obvious that he came from a fine family with proper
upbringing. JoeAnn Marcum Crawford 2014-08-01
Charleston Daily Mail February 20, 2008
County man's body found in ditch
A truck driver found the body of a Belle man this morning in a ditch near the man's home, police said.
Patrick Gwin, 57, of Belle, apparently died of natural causes, State Police Sgt. K.G. McCord said Tuesday in a news release. State Police troopers were called to the scene on Orchard Avenue around 8 a.m.
There are no indications of foul play in the death of Gwin, whose body was sent to the state Medical Examiner's office for an autopsy, McCord said.
Alcohol and cold temperatures may have played a role in the death, he said. His body was found next to the road, but he did not appear to have been hit by a vehicle.
Reprise: Some of the family gathered at
Highlawn Baptist Church in St. Albans on 11 June 2005 for Dot's
A Girl, a Guy, and Good Intentions: A True Love Story
by Dorothy Lee Keeney Gwin
with Courtney Elaine Gwin