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Edward Joseph Cabbell

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Memories & Candles

“Ed was more than a friend. More than a mentor. We shared bread, living quarters and dreams in Morgantown WV. We shared our love of music together on...Read More »
1 of 9 | Posted by: Robert Howard - Friend

“A great activist, and teacher, giver. ”
2 of 9 | Posted by: Wallace Hood - Morgantown, WV

“My condolences to the entire family and off of the friend. Blessings..... ”
3 of 9 | Posted by: Sharon Adams - Chicago, IL

“I have a vivid memory (and many more vague ones) of a smoky night at the Underground Railroad in Morgantown, Ed on the mic belting out the blues,...Read More »
4 of 9 | Posted by: Cat McConnell - Independence, WV

“I haven't seen Ed for many years but treasure the moments I spent with him. He was smart, talented, funny and fun. He contributed so much to our...Read More »
5 of 9 | Posted by: Mimi Pickering - Whitesburg, KY

“Ed was a VERY good friend and colleague. We worked together producing the John Henry Folk Festival for MANY years. We performed together at the JH...Read More »
6 of 9 | Posted by: Sparky Rucker - Maryville, TN

“I am sorry to hear of Ed's passing. I remember him with fondness from Concord College. He was friends with my father, R.T. (Tom) Hill. Unfortunately...Read More »
7 of 9 | Posted by: MaryGrace Walrath (Hill) - TN

“"Find the good and praise it." Such was the phrase author Alex Haley used when he autographed copies of his Pulitzer-winning book, Roots. The words...Read More »
8 of 9 | Posted by: William Turner - Houston, TX

“Ed was truly one of a kind.Jim and I enjoyed his company, his intelligence, his feisty personality.He was a major voice for civil rights and we will...Read More »
9 of 9 | Posted by: Phyllis Wilson Moore - Clarksburg, WV


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Edward “Ed” Joseph Cabbell, an educator, life-long civil rights activist and a resident of Rome, GA, died peacefully on May 13, 2018 at the age of 71 after succumbing an illness. Ed was born in Eckman, WV, on June 26, 1946, son of John Marshall Cabbell and the late Cassie King. He is survived by the mother of his children, Madeline Burger; his daughters Melissa Rolan (Troy), Winnia Cabbell; his grandchildren Nakesha Cabbell, Autumn Simmons (Tarrence), Steven Wooten (Candace), and Ayana Harmon (William); his great-grandchildren, Ja-Nyah Showalter, Vincent Wooten, Ezkakiah Wooten, and Aubrie Simmons; his sisters, Janice Cabbell, Deborah Owens, and Sybil (Cabbell) Graham. He is predeceased by his brother, Johnnie O. Cabbell; his grandmothers Carrie Cabbell and Myrtle Haley. He is also survived by a host of nieces, nephews, cousins and all his friends. Ed graduated from Kimball High School with honors in Kimball, WV (1964). He earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in education/social studies at Concord College, in Athens, WV, where he directed the Concord College Upward Bound and Special Services Programs (1969-1975) and taught history. He studied at Appalachian State University in Boone, NC, graduating as the first African American to earn a Masters degree in Appalachian Studies. For the last five decades, he became a recognized authority on Appalachian studies, and particularly Appalachian African American studies, Ed co-edited Blacks in Appalachia, a book that followed from his master’s thesis project, has been hailed as the groundbreaking work that launched Appalachian African American studies. Ed is the founder and director of the John Henry Memorial Foundation/Festival and publisher of Black Diamondsmagazine, both of which encourage study of black Appalachian life and culture. At the John Henry Memorial Festival, he performed accompanied and unaccompanied spirituals. He claims to have learned his singing mostly from his grandmother who lived from 1890 to 1991. He spoke extensively of the contextual history of individual spirituals particular to their singing in his grandmother’s African American community in West Virginia. He was founder and director of the Miss Black Pearl Pageant, Miss Black West Virginia Pageant and Miss John Henry Folk Festival. Ed was a devoted father, grandfather and singer. He enjoyed singing and talking about his lineage and culture. He traveled all over the mountains and spoke at Rome, Italy about black culture and life, and was an amateur spoon/bone player. He often sang at the Georgia Mountain Music Club (Bluegrass, Country and Gospel Music) and was known as a soulful vocalist among his avid listeners. He directed community and cultural programs and projects and worked as a social worker. He was a community activist who spearheaded the Neighborhood Improvement Association and through his efforts led to the construction and naming the street known as Martin Luther King Jr. Avenue in Princeton, WV. He will be deeply missed by his friends, family, and all who knew him. He served as member and Deacon of Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church of Princeton, WV (1968-1989), NAACP, and VFW. He was a proud member of the Georgia Mountain Music Club and Mount Zion Christian Methodist Episcopal Church until his death. A memorial service is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on June 2 at the Mount Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, located at 109 High Street in Princeton, WV. Pastor David C. Camps, Sr. of Agape Fellowship Baptist Church in Hope Mills, NC, will officiate. Family and friends are welcome to a gathering with refreshments downstairs immediately after the service. Gifts, donations and condolences may be offered at Mt. Calvary Missionary Baptist Church, 109 High Street, Princeton, WV 24740. Cremation services provided by Georgia Cremation Centers.

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