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W.Va. sports heroes on hand for museum debut

Charleston Daily Mail photo by Bob Wojcieszak Former coaches, from left to right, Tex Williams and Willie Akers and WVU and NBA legend Jerry West, joke at the opening of the Artie Museum on Monday in Artie.
Charleston Daily Mail photo by Bob Wojcieszak
Former coaches, from left to right, Tex Williams and Willie Akers and WVU and NBA legend Jerry West, joke at the opening of the Artie Museum on Monday in Artie.

ARTIE, W.Va. — For a day, a small town in Raleigh County was the center of the Mountain State sporting world.

The Artie Museum hosted its grand opening Monday afternoon after five years of work by longtime Kanawha Valley high school and University of Charleston basketball coach Tex Williams, an Artie native. Inside the small building is decades worth of sports history from not just Williams’ career but from all corners of West Virginia.

Finding Artie on a map is no easy task, but a crowd of several hundred made the trip for the ceremony featuring a ribbon cutting by former West Virginia University standout and longtime Logan High School basketball coach Willie Akers along with former East Bank, West Virginia University and Los Angeles Lakers star Jerry West.

Williams said he got to know Akers and West while working at camps put on by West when he was still playing professional basketball. That bond has stood the test of time and brought the longtime friends back together for the unveiling of Williams’ work.

“This is about Tex Williams and his desire to not let anyone forget the past,” West said. “He’s been one of the most loyal people I’ve ever met in my life. I’ve always considered him to be one of the truly great guys. A typical West Virginia person as far as I’m concerned.”

Williams was not shy about showing his appreciation for the presence of his old friend.

“Everybody in the world would like to have Jerry West for a day, and he humbled himself — that’s who Jerry West is,” he said.

The idea for museum began five years ago as a project for Williams after his retirement from teaching and coaching. He had boxes upon boxes of items he had collected during his career and suddenly had a lot of time on his hands…

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