Lester Virgil McCumbers, 93 - Rosedale (Nicut)

Lester Virgil McCumbers, 93, of Rosedale (Nicut) WV, passed away January 26, 2015 at Minnie Hamilton Health System in Grantsville.

Born August 15, 1921 in Calhoun County, he was a son of the late Henry Franklin and Ida Myrtle McCumbers

. Surviving are his children, Bea (Wetzel) Putnam of Arnoldsburg WV, Anna Lee (Jimmie) White of Auburn Township OH, Paulette (Dennis) Ice of Garrettsville OH, Joan (Paul) Cottrell of Nicut WV, Sharon (George) Morris of Lake Milton OH, Billy (Pat) McCumbers of Big Bend WV, Tammy (Rick) Smith of Tanner WV, Timmy (Mary) McCumbers of Nicut. Also surviving are 23 grandchildren; 27 great grandchildren; several great-great grandchildren.

He is preceded in death, in addition to his parents, by his wife Linda McCumbers; son Roger McCumbers; two grandchildren; four sisters and four brothers.

Lester has played music since he was about 14 years old. As a young man, he played guitar with local fiddlers such as French Carpenter, Ward Jarvis, and Harvey Sampson.

Lester learned to play fiddle from his father, Henry Franklin McCumbers, and playing the fiddle has always been a big part of his life.

In the mid-1960's, Lester and his wife Linda played in a band with their sons Roger, Bill, and Tim, along with their son-in-law Paul Cottrell. They called themselves Lester McCumbers & the Sandy Valley Boys, and hosted a radio show on WSPZ radio in Spencer. The 30-minute shows were live on the air every Saturday afternoon and featured many local musicians.

After their son Roger passed away in 1998, the Sandy Valley Boys disbanded, and Lester and Linda began playing with Braxton County old-time banjo player Carroll Hardway.

They played festivals around the state until Carroll's death in 2002. After that, Lester and Linda continued to play at festivals around West Virginia with old-time banjo player Kim Johnson, and were often joined by their sons Bill and Tim.

Lester and Linda were popular attractions at festivals all across the area. Their favorite festival was the WV Folk Festival at Glenville, and Lester won many blue ribbons there at fiddle contests over the years.

In 2004, Lester became the first West Virginian to win the first place blue ribbon in the fiddle contest at the Appalachian String Band Festival at Clifftop.

In 2005, Lester was the recipient of the Vandalia Award presented by the West Virginia Division of Culture and History. Each year, the Vandalia Award, the state's highest folk life honor, is presented to recognize a lifetime contribution to West Virginia's folk culture.

Another of his treasured memories was when he was invited to play at the Ryman Auditorium in Nashville where he had the opportunity to play with a variety of artists.

Funeral services will be held at 1:00 p.m. Friday January 30, 2015 at Stump Funeral Home in Arnoldsburg with Rev. Chris Stout officiating. Burial will follow in the Mount Run Cemetery. Friends may call at the funeral home Friday from 10:00 a.m.-1:00 p.m. prior to the services.