BECKLEY — There’s a lot to be said for individuals who work tirelessly to serve and give to others. But those who labor endlessly and quietly, expecting no recognition, are truly champions of giving.
The 25th annual YMCA of Southern West Virginia’s Spirit of Beckley will serve as a recognition to a husband and wife who seek little acknowledgment of their philanthropy — Douglas and Linda K. “Kay” Epling. The award, which honors an individual’s selfless service, concern and care for the people of Beckley, Raleigh County and West Virginia, is a public proclamation of the recipient’s exemplary service.
This year’s event will be held Dec. 5; the social hour begins at 6 p.m., followed by dinner at 7 p.m. at the Beckley-Raleigh County Convention Center.
Now a quarter-century old, the Spirit of Beckley Campaign “celebrates the human spirit, the best in all of us,” said YMCA of Southern West Virginia CEO Jay Rist. “We really feel Doug and Linda Kay exemplify what the Spirit of Beckley is all about. They are great people and have done a lot, from the obvious field of dreams to other things behind the scenes.”
Rist describes the couple as humble and selfless and “truly worthy of the this prestigious award.”
Doug Epling explained that when they were first told they would receive the award it was “breathtaking.”
“It is quite an honor, and I am without words for it,” he said.
Kay said they are blessed.
The Eplings are best known as the owners of Linda K. Epling Stadium and the West Virginia Miners baseball team in the collegiate Prospect League.
This baseball stadium was the third one they have built, after constructing facilities at Woodrow Wilson High School and WVU Tech.
It was Kay who suggested building the stadium, one reason Doug surprised her by naming it after her, he said.
Kay said she sees the stadium as one way they do God’s work.
“We agreed it would be a place where families could come together and have a good, clean atmosphere to enjoy activities. We wanted it to be a safe environment, and that’s the way it will always be,” Doug said.
“It’s a gathering place,” said Kay.
When she works in the concession stand, people may come and ask her what the score is or what inning it is because they get caught up in the most important thing for many who attend — coming together with friends.
“We are so thankful to the community and to the YMCA,” added Doug. “Coming from such a great organization, this award is one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on a person.”
Doug is also chairman of the Beckley Police Commission, a board member of the West Virginia Parkways Authority and member of the Crab Orchard-MacArthur Lions Club. He served as West Virginia State Boxing Commissioner for nine years and has been a member of the Coal City Masonic Lodge, a Royal Arch Mason, and a 32nd Degree Scottish Rite Mason.
He is also the owner of Mountain Edge Mining, Legacy Resources and Hanover Resources.
Kay taught social studies in Raleigh County schools for 21 years and, with her husband, leads Young @ Heart, a senior program at Faith Baptist Church in Prosperity. She co-founded Faith Journey, a weekend retreat for Christian women, leads a Bible study group in her home and is a member of the board of directors for the Raleigh County Commission on Aging.
Spirit of Beckley committee co-chairs all echoed Rist’s sentiment: This couple gives quietly, working unseen and unrecognized in the community.
“Doug and Kay are born and bred Raleigh Countians, he from Flat Top and she from Odd,” said co-chair Judy Harrah. “Most people know of the Eplings because of the awesome new stadium ... but there is a lot more to this couple and their involvement in the community that will come to light during the Spirit of Beckley recognition ceremony.”
Co-chair Donna Tanner said, “The Eplings are great people and great examples to follow. We feel like this award could give thanks back to them for all they do.”
“Beckley could not have chosen anyone more deserving,” said co-chair Drema Evans. “Their standards are extremely high, and I have the highest respect for them.”
David Gentry, committee co-chair, added the pair truly balance being “civic-minded” and “family-oriented.”
“This recognition is more than long over due for them,” he added.
Tickets for the Spirit of Beckley dinner are available at the YMCA of Southern West Virginia, East Main Street, Beckley; call 304-252-0715.
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