"When he saw his face on TV, he put his head in his hands and cried," his wife said.
Della Williams is the daughter of a coal miner, the sister of two more, and the wife of a miner who's retired on disability.
For Williams, bearing up when hardship hits is a family tradition. Before she was even born, her father broke his pelvis when a piece of slate fell on him in a mine and laid him up for six months before he could go back underground. Nine years ago on July 8 -- which happens to be her birthday -- floods turned the road in front of her house into a rushing river.
"We've been through a lot, but God's always with us," she said. When times get tough, she relies on family, friends and God.
"I know that God is still the same yesterday, today and forever," she said.
As the search for the missing miners dragged into its fourth day, she continued to hold out hope for their safe return.
"I'm still praying," she said. "West Virginia is in for a miracle."
And she figured the missing miners are relying on their faith as well.
"I'd say, if they're still alive, they're holding hands and praying together."
Her daughter, who had baked 100 cupcakes for the families of the Upper Big Branch miners that morning, had a similar take on the drawn-out rescue efforts. She hoped that when the rescuers get to the final chamber, the miners inside will ask them: What took you so long?
Reach Andrew Clevenger at acleven...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1723.