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Community celebrates the life of Raleigh County musical icon, Bill Withers

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BECKLEY, W. VA. (WVVA) - More than a year after the passing of music icon Bill Withers on March 30, 2020, community members gathered on Saturday to honor the Raleigh County native's legacy.

Dennie Morgan played a key role in Saturday's celebration of the music legend. He was one of several people who donated to the sign.

Morgan said songs like "Lean on Me" tell the story of Withers' life and how growing up in West Virginia impacted him.

"I absolutely think, based on what, everything I've read about Mr. Withers, that impacted him," said Morgan. "The lyrics of Lean on Me, specifically talking about if you need something, you can go to your neighbors and I think that's one of the greatest strengths we have in this area, is that we, we we love our neighbors and we help each other, and we're there for each other. "

This ceremony's purpose was dedicating the sign that highlights Withers' legacy and stands across from Stratton Elementary.

One of the people in attendance was CV Thompson, who grew up across the street from Withers and knew him well.

Thompson said he is proud of his friend's accomplishments and thankful for those involved with celebrating them.

"He did a wonderful job, and I am so grateful to a friend of mine, Tom Sopher here, for doing this because I didn't know if we would ever do this," said Thompson.

Sopher is the President of the Raleigh County Historical Society and was instrumental in putting on the Bill Withers Day celebration.

He said he is glad to see it finally come to frutition and hopes celebrating Withers' legacy will continue in the future.

"The sign is the beginning of a great thing to happen for the city of Beckley, I'm sure we'll carry this um tradition um about the Bill Withers Day, on for many many years to come," said Sopher.

While Withers will always be known globally for his hit songs, Grammy Recognition, and Hall of Fame inductions, for the people of Raleigh County West Virginia, his success will always be a little extra special as this is the community he called home.

"I wish Mr. Withers could've been here to enjoy it and appreciate, but I think he knew his community loved him and appreciates him," said Morgan.

Withers other hits include: "Ain't No Sunshine", "Grandmas Hands", "Lovely Day" and many others.

Another way the city plans to honor Withers' legacy is with a statue that will be placed at Beckley Intermodal Gateway later this year.

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Maria Sellers

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