Last Update: 08/26/2023
Bernie Coyle grew up in western Maryland and has forestry degrees from Allegany College, West Virginia University and Virginia Tech. He worked for seven years in forest land management and wood procurement with Union Camp Corporation in Alabama and Georgia, including assistant manager of Union Camp’s timber harvesting subsidiary in Alabama, Rocky Creek Logging Company. For 30 years he worked for Westvaco and its successor companies MeadWestvaco, NewPage and Verso in wood procurement. He was the wood procurement manager at the Wickliffe, Kentucky papermill and was the last wood procurement manager at the Luke, Maryland papermill that closed in 2019.
Since his retirement, Bernie and Linda have enjoyed growing and planting trees to create an arboretum on their property on the South Branch of the Potomac River near Levels. They have a special interest in tree species that are declining or becoming less common in the area, such as butternut, bur oak and especially American chestnut. For several years they have been collecting chestnut burs from many surviving sprouts that occur on the Allegheny Front near their home in Keyser. Despite the challenges from squirrels, deer and dry summers, they are gradually establishing wild and backcross American chestnuts on their land. They have been expanding their work in the activities, demonstrations and plantings to promote American chestnut restoration. They look forward to a time when the efforts of so many people over many years once again make American chestnut a common tree of our forests. Every year, we are getting a little closer!
Linda Coyle was born in Kentucky on a hot day in August with black hair as dark as coal. Her first recollection of trees was when she got a whipping as a child with a peach tree limb. Her father was a career Army man and his last stations were in Fort Knox, KY and Fort Wainwright, Alaska. After her father's retirement, Linda's family of 6, returned to Kentucky. Later in life, Linda graduated from Murray State University with a BS in Occupational Safety & Health. After graduating, she has taken on a variety of jobs during her adult life. She has worked as a safety director, as an EMT, and in search and rescue. She also has worked as a substitute teacher, has sold shoes for Dillards, and has filled fabric orders for Hancock’s of Paducah.
As a volunteer, she worked in the school system, with Boy Scouts and Girls Scouts, 4-H, and with the community extension of University of Kentucky and WVU. Recently, she has become involved with The American Chestnut Foundation and the Daughters of the American Revolution. Finally, she has been an active member of her local church, serving Jesus for the last 60 years.
In her family life, she is the proud mother of two children, Robert and Janet. Robert is a working artist in NYC and Janet works in an architecture firm in Dallas. Linda married her husband Bernie in October 2010. They are excited to be awarded Mr. and Mrs. Chestnut for 2023.