BECKLEY, WV (WVNS) — A Prayer Vigil will be held to honor all those who lost their lives in a helicopter crash. The crash happened on July 4, 2019. Among those who were on the helicopter was Chris Cline, a local coal company owner.
According to the Beckley Rotary Club’s Facebook page, a prayer vigil will be held for all the victims of the crash. The vigil is scheduled for Thursday July 11 at 7:30 p.m. at the Paul Cline Memorial Sports Complex in Beckley.
Everyone is welcome to join.
A Celebration of Life Service will also be held in remembrance of Chris Cline and his daughter, Kameron. That service will be held at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center on Friday, July 12, at 5 p.m.
July 5, 1958 – July 4, 2019
Chris Cline never forgot his upbringing in the West Virginia coal mines. As his business savvy made him a billionaire, he did not forget his hometown of Isaban, his home state or its people, especially children, in need.
Mr. Cline, 60, died Thursday in a helicopter crash off the coast of his private island Big Grand Bay in the Bahamas with his beloved daughter Kameron, 22. Five others were lost in the tragic accident.
Mr. Cline’s grandfather and father were coal miners. As a child, he was digging dirt and filling bags for his father to use in packing blasting holes. He earned a penny a bag.
He went to work underground as a teenager. After leaving Marshall University early to help his father in a punch mine, the enterprising Mr. Cline borrowed money to buy the company’s first continuous miner, an innovative improvement to coal production. He worked 16-hour shifts, seven days a week, month after month leading his crew, to pay it off. His big break came when he was able to buy an unprofitable mine for $1 million, improve its performance, and flip it for $17 million. One partner said, as quoted in Forbes, “He sees value in assets others overlook.”
He’d found his calling.
He never stopped doubling down on deals.
His coal enterprises took him from Appalachia to Illinois to Canada. He offered cash incentives to his miners, installed advanced and safe mining equipment, and was ahead of his time in anticipating the market for coal. A mining engineer said, according to a Forbes magazine profile of Mr. Cline, “Those guys would run through a wall for him.” Mr. Cline believed it was not enough to be innovative, you need a little luck. At Foresight, his four mine complexes were the most productive underground operations in the nation. He bought docks on the Mississippi River and built rail spurs to haul coal onto ships bound for India, Europe and Asia.
The boy from Isaban had become a man of the world.
Mr. Cline understood opponents of burning coal while defending coal and his role in supplying the world with it. He believed that people deserved the cheapest energy they could get. He had a curious mind, was eager to learn about everything and never stopped learning. As committed as he was to coal energy, for his Big Grand Cay property he installed solar panels and batteries. Where renewable energy sources made sense, he was eager to embrace them.
Upon learning of Mr. Cline’s death, President Trump tweeted to 62 million people: “My greatest sympathies go out to the family and friends of great businessman and energy expert Chris Cline, his wonderful daughter, Kameron, and their friends, on the tragic accident which took place in the Bahamas. The great people of West Virginia will never forget them!”
As a reminder of the source of his wealth, Mr. Cline’s first, battered hard hat is placed prominently above the fireplace of his Beckley mansion. At that house, he created a lake large enough for water skiing and a 400-foot water slide, built a go-kart track, and paint ball obstacle course. Though a billionaire, he never lost touch with the days that he lived in a single-wide trailer and used a blow dryer to thaw his water pipes.
Mr. Cline was generous with his philanthropy, publicly through the Cline Family Foundation, founded in 2009, but most importantly, privately, almost daily. The Foundation focuses on donations throughout West Virginia in recognition of the community’s contribution to his success. It offers scholarships and grants, endows universities, and financially supports charitable organizations that make life better for children and older youth.
Among other donations, the Cline Family Foundation gave millions to West Virginia University, Marshall University,Place of Hope, a foster care and adoption organization; Peacehaven Community Farm, a home for disabled adults; orphanages in West Virginia and Haiti; Save the Children; humanitarian aid organizations in Tanzania; churches; and the Raleigh County YMCA, among other organizations, and many needy individuals over the years. He also supported The Benjamin School from which his daughter Kameron graduated in 2015. Few people beyond the recipients know details of Mr. Cline’s many and constant personal acts of private charity.
He played as hard as he worked and was happiest in the company of his life-long friends and family. Mr. Cline kept close his friends from all phases of his life and regularly included them in his leisure activities.
Sharing his adventures with his four children and his lifelong friends was his particular pleasure. He would take crowds of friends and family to the Super Bowl, the Big East Tournament, myriad other sporting events, and on his frequent world travels. He loved the beach and nothing pleased him more than sharing good times at his homes and on his yacht. Mr. Cline was an adventure junkie whether it was driving fast cars or riding a four-wheeler like a banshee through the West Virginia hills. He had a good relationship with his money: he was willing to spend it.
He had his beloved Candice with his first wife, Sabrina, who tragically died of cancer in 1987. While divorced from his second wife of ten years, Kelly Cline Fama, in 2000, they shared three wonderful children, Logan, Tanner and Kameron, and a relationship of mutual respect for the rest of his life.
Mr. Cline often remarked that his children could not have better parents than Kelly and their step-dad,Phillip.
No matter what the demands of his business, Mr. Cline was devoted and committed to time with his children.In a statement, Mr. Cline’s family said that he was “one of West Virginia’s strongest sons, an American original, full of grit, integrity, intelligence, and humor.” Of Mr. Cline’s daughter Kameron, the family wrote that she was “a bright light to all who knew her, loving, smart, compassionate and full of joy and enthusiasm for life and other people.” She graduated from Louisiana State University in May 2019 with a business degree and concentration in finance.
Her Benjamin School teachers wrote: “Kameron and the entire Cline family were all members of The Benjamin School community. Around campus, Kameron was known for her fun and upbeat personality. She joined the track team and excelled at the long jump, even qualifying for the state finals during her first year on the team. Kameron and classmate Brittney Searson shared a strong friendship; they were voted “Attached at the Hip” in their class superlatives.” Ms. Searson died in the accident with her best friend.
Kameron graduated from The Benjamin School in May 2015.
Mr. Cline’s survivors include a daughter, Candice Cline Kenan and her husband James Graham Kenan; two sons,Christopher Logan Cline and Alex Tanner Cline; and two brothers, Greg Cline and Kenneth Cline.
Kameron Cline’s survivors include her mother and step-father, Kelly Cline Fama and Phillip George Fama of Mooresville, NC; a sister and brother-in-law, Candice Cline and James Graham Kenan; three brothers, Christopher Logan Cline, Alex Tanner Cline, and Ethan Phillip Fama. Grandparents who died before her are Casey Eugene and Sybial Maxine Cantrell of Clendenin,WV; Paul and Lassie Cline of Isaban, West Virginia; and step-grandparents George and Mary Ann Fama of Beckley.
In lieu of flowers, the family would appreciate gifts to either: Powercross, (www.powercross.org) a ministry for student athletes, at 1133 West Front Street, Statesville, N.C., 28677. YMCA of Beckley-Raleigh County (www.ymcaswv.com),121 East Main Street, Beckley, West Virginia, 25801
A remembrance service will be held at the Raleigh County Armory at 200 Armory Drive, Beckley, West Virginia at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 12, 2019. All who which to share our celebration of these wonderful lives are welcome to attend.
Ms. Kameron Nicole Cline
March 21, 1997 – July 4, 2019
Kameron Cline embodied the best of qualities in a young woman. She was a loyal friend, compassionate, joyful,and smart. These exceptional characteristics were evident early in her life and never wavered.
Kameron Nicole Cline, 22, of West Palm Beach, FL, died July 4 in a helicopter accident off the Bahamas coast.Her father, Chris Cline, 60, and five other people perished in the crash.
Kameron graduated from Louisiana State University in May where she earned a business degree with a concentration in finance. At LSU, she was a member of the Phi Mu social sorority.
She blended her academic accomplishments with fun times with her friends and family, beach excursions, music,travel, and watching movies. Her eclectic music tastes ranged from Taylor Swift, to Shakira and Rihana and from Jeezy to Bob Marley and Eminem, and most recently Pink Floyd and the Beatles. Her favorite time on the water was when she was wake boarding.
Beyond her academic and social activities, Kameron did community service in Africa, mission trips with Christ Fellowship to Haiti, and volunteered with various other non-profits including Place of Hope and Samaritans Purse. She always held a special place in her heart for underprivileged children.
Kami, as she was called, was quiet, observant, smart, and always kind. She would not say anything if she did not have something good to say. Her compassion was constant and evident. On a trip to St. Vincent and the Grenadines with her best friend Brittney Searson, she was the perfect ambassador for her school and for her country. She readily engaged with the Vencentians and was moved to help the less privileged. She persuaded her father to make a generous donation to assist students from the tiny island of Mayreau to attend school on neighboring Union Island. The islands nations called with their condolences after hearing of her passing.
In 2015 Kameron graduated from The Benjamin School in Palm Beach Gardens where she was a track athlete. The Benjamin School said of Kameron, “Around campus, Kameron was known for her fun and upbeat personality. She joined the track team and excelled at the long jump, even qualifying for the state finals during her first year on the team.”
Kameron and Brittney attended LSU together where they were sorority sisters and roommates. Brittney, 21,also perished in the accident. The Benjamin School has ordered to fly flags at half-staff in their memory.
In a statement, Kameron’s family said she was “a bright light to all who knew her, loving, smart, compassionate and full of joy and enthusiasm for life and other people.” And humble beyond measure. As testament to the esteem in which Kameron was held, public condolence messages have poured in from, among many, The Benjamin School, LSU, Phi Mu, and the family’s home church, Brenton Southern Baptist.
The greater Raleigh County community will host a prayer vigil for the victims of this tragedy at 7:30 p.m.Thursday at the Paul Cline Memorial Sports Complex.
A celebration of life service will be held at the Raleigh County Armory at 200 Armory Drive, Beckley, West Virginia at 5 p.m. on Friday, July 12, 2019. All who wish to share our celebration of these wonderful lives are welcome to attend.
Kameron’s survivors include her mother and stepfather, Kelly Cline Fama and Phillip George Fama of Mooresville, NC; a sister and brother-in-law, Candice Cline Kenan and James Graham Kenan of Charleston, SC; three brothers, Christopher Logan Cline, Alex Tanner Cline of North Palm Beach FL, and Ethan Phillip Fama of Mooresville NC. Grandparents who died before her are Casey Eugene and Sybial Maxine Cantrell of Clendenin, WV, Paul and Lassie Cline, and step-grandparents George and Mary Ann Fama of Beckley, WV.
The family requests in lieu of flowers that charitable donations be sent to either Powercross www.powercross.org, a ministry for student athletes at 1133 West Front Street, Statesville, North Carolina 28677, or to the YMCA of Beckley-Raleigh County www.ymcaswv.com, 121 East Main Street, Beckley, West Virginia 25801