Originally published in the Enumclaw Courier-Herald, February 1955
By H.J. Glover
Wife of miner who lost life there year ago in choirTemperamental skies that alternately smiled and frowned looked down on the slopes of a fir-clad mountain west of Ravensdale Saturday morning as memorial services were held for four coal miners who lost their lives in a cave-in of the Landsburg Mine No. 1 on the night of January 29. The mine is owned and operated by the Palmer Coking Coal Company.
The memorial services, in charge of the Rev. David H. Weed, pastor of the Black Diamond Presbyterian Church, were scheduled to commence at 10 a.m., but long before that time people began quietly assembling until an estimated 500 were attendance.
At the yawning portal of the mine that holds the bodies of the four men who were trapped in January, and also that of another miner who died in a similar accident about a year ago, were dozens of wreaths, and other flowers were piled on planks and even on the bare ground nearby where their bright colors contrasted strangely with the coal dust that lay all about.
The four men who were entombed by the huge cave-in in January this year were Louis Valente, 58, Ravensdale; Frank Stebly, also 58, Black Diamond; John Kovash, 44, Hobart; and Nathan D. Russell, 48, Carbonado. All were married men with children.
Of the four widows, only Mrs. Selma Stebly and Mrs. Julia Kovash attended the memorial services. Mrs. Stebly, surrounded by members of her family, sat in a chair in the midst of the big throng and Mrs. Kovash stood with friends in the front row. Mrs. Wanda Russell and Mrs. Madeline Valente were in seclusion at their homes, too ill to attend. Mrs. Russell has spent most of the time since the tragedy in the hospital.
Two husky miners unloaded a small organ from a pick-up truck and placed it on the ground near the portal as Rev. Weed and 10 members of his choir gathered around. Mrs. Muriel Wing, organist, seated herself on a folding chair and the members of the choir opened their books.