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River Hero Spotlight: Amanda Pitzer Continues a Legacy

Music while you’re reading:

The Way Things Are
from West Virginia Serenade
by Keith & Joan Pitzer

Listen here.

Ten years ago, we lost a remarkable person and a powerhouse in the water protector community. Keith Pitzer, executive director of Friends of the Cheat, was awarded the River Hero award posthumously in 2010. Keith believed in River Network’s philosophy that partnerships are fundamental to everything that we do. Not only was he the axle in the great wheel of effort that Friends of the Cheat and the River of Promise turned round, but he also was our friend, ally and inspiration. Keith was a living example of River Network’s belief in partnership and he exemplified the concept that working together, we can change the world.

Exactly 10 years later, at River Rally 2020, Keith’s successor and daughter-in-law, Amanda Pitzer, will be honored with the same award. Same as our 4 other River Heroes, Amanda was selected by a committee of her peers in the water community for her tenacity, grit, and ability to successfully and ruthlessly take on the biggest and baddest actors while maintaining a spirit of purpose and optimism.

“All the successes we’ve had in the last 10 years are because [Keith] laid the groundwork. When I came into the organization…I had so many good people surrounding me. That’s part of the magic of West Virginia…and it’s the river that brings us all together. It’s what brought me here and it’s because of people like Keith.”

In addition to being a relentless advocate for the Cheat and Preston County, Keith was also a remarkable musician, often breaking out his guitar at River Rally. Alongside his wife, Joan, Keith’s music reflected his love of the West Virginia hills, family life on the farm, and of stewardship and care for the Cheat River. Keith and Joan performed at the very first Cheat River Festival, and then every year until he passed in 2009.

It is the wish of Keith’s family and Friends of the Cheat family to construct a much-needed new stage in his honor, to host the many musicians who were inspired by his work and music at the Cheat River Festival.

Watch Keith’s wife, Joan Pitzer, accept the River Hero award on his behalf in 2010.

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