PIKEVILLE, Ky. (WYMT) - An influential coal advocate from Pike County died Thursday.
David Gooch lobbied for the coal industry throughout the commonwealth and the country.
Gooch served as President of Coal Operators and Associates in Pikeville for nearly a decade, and Executive Director for many years before that.
"He knew the issues of coal better than anybody. He was many times my source of information," said Gooch's friend Charles Baird.
Friends say lobbying for the coal industry was not just part of his job, it was part of who he was.
"I think the coal industry has really suffered a major loss with the passing of David Gooch, and it's hard for me to even say that he's gone really," said Baird.
Former Governor Paul Patton says he remembers Gooch from his time in office.
"I think he was very concerned about his community and totally impacted the coal industry which certainly impacted the entire area of Eastern Kentucky," said Patton.
Gooch's friends say his good qualities were endless.
"He was one of the most loyal friends I had, and that went both ways. He was always there for me, and I hope that I was always there for him," said Baird.
They say his loss will be felt throughout the community, the region and the coal industry.
On Friday United States Senator Mitch McConnell issued this statement:
"David Gooch was a strong advocate for Kentucky coal miners and their families, and I greatly enjoyed our visits during my travels to Eastern Kentucky. Elaine and I send our condolences to his wife Reta, his family and friends."