A memorial service is set for Saturday at 2 p.m. at Tammarack (Beckley) for environmental activist Judy Bonds, who has died from cancer at age 58.

Bonds was a major figure in bringing the plight of mountaintop removal to America. She was executive director of Coal River Mountain Watch.

The memorial service program includes singers Kathy Mattea, Shirley Stewart Burns, T. Paige Dalporto, Andy Mahler, and Jen Osha.

Speakers include Bonds' daughter Lisa Henderson, authors Denise Giardina ("Storming Heaven," "The Unquiet Earth") and Jeff Biggers ("The United States of Appalachia," "Reckoning at Eagle Creek") and 2007 Goldman Environmental Prize winner Maria Gunnoe.

"Judy has been a driving force against mountaintop removal," said former co-worker Lorelei Scarboro.

She was a descendant of generations of West Virginia coal miners, becoming a passionate and fearless opponent of mountaintop removal, mining that she blamed for devastating the environment and the lives of coalfield residents.

Friends say she never backed down.

In 2003, Bonds won the $125,000 Goldman Environmental Prize for her activism.

Bonds said she started being an activist the day her grandson stood in a nearby creek enjoyed by her family for generations, his fists full of dead fish and dead fish floating all around.

"What's wrong with these fish? he asked. That day I knew that if I didn't do something, that would be the future of our children," she said.


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