CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Following the death of coal industry magnate and philanthropist Chris Cline Thursday, Gov. Jim Justice described Cline as a kind-hearted individual and a personal friend who will be missed by many people who benefited from his generosity, over the course of more than three decades.
“We were able to work together on a bunch of different things, but Chris did so much for so many,” Justice told MetroNews. “Oftentimes, when people get going and they get so wrapped up in what they’re doing — and they have to be that, in order to perform at the level that they perform — but when they do that and, at the same time, they always remember their roots, they always remember to be kind and to give back, and that giving back is what really motivates and propels greatness, in my opinion. And, he always did that, always did that so graciously.”
Justice recalled the early days of Cline’s business career, which began in the Beckley area in the 1970s.
“My dad and (Cline’s) uncle had been working on a transaction and everything, and we actually owned Pioneer Fuel, and Dad sold Pioneer Fuel to Chris Cline, and then Chris took off from there, and that was probably the beginning or one of the beginnings of something that Chris started down the road and built and built and built, and lo and behold, look what happened. He just had an incredible mind and incredible passion,” Justice said.
Cline was a passenger on a helicopter that went down in the Atlantic Ocean, while en route from Grand Cay Island in the Bahamas to Fort Lauderdale, Florida Thursday afternoon, according to Bahamian officials.
The cause of the accident, which also took the life of Cline’s daughter, Cameron, and five other people, remains under investigation.