Willie Collett 2012 (11)


Red Bird Mission sadly lost one of its Grow Appalachia participants on January 11, 2013. Mr. William “Gunsmoke” Collett was born February 26, 1930 in Leslie county Kentucky and was 82 years old at his passing. Willie was a lifetime resident of Leslie County and was well liked by all that knew him. By occupation, he was a logger, coal miner and factory worker. He enjoyed gardening, fishing and C.B. Radios.

Willie was a fairly new participant in the Grow Appalachia Program joining in the early spring of 2012. Gardening being one of his greatest interests, he was excited about what things could be accomplished in our community through the Grow Appalachia Program. Willie once told me “This could really be a good way to get the younger people back into gardening like people were when I was growing up, see when I was growing up we grew almost all our own food”.

Willie was 100% Appalachian in his farming. He told me “when I was growing up we didn’t buy fertilizer we used manure, always saved our own seeds and canned everything for the winter months. All we had to buy was lids for our jars every couple years”. This was the type of self sufficiency he wanted to see bestowed in our younger generation. He said “gardening is about a lost trade amongst young people these days”.

I learned a lot from Willie in the year we had together. He held a wealth of knowledge in self sustained gardening and farming and was always more than willing to share this with anyone who asked. I believe it’s these old Appalachian folks who can teach us the most about growing and preserving our own food because it was simply their way of life. I was looking forward to working with and learning from Willie this year, he will be missed.

Rest In Peace “Gunsmoke”.


By: Chad Brock

So also you have sorrow now, but I will see you again, and your hearts, and

No one will take away your joy from you.   John 16:22