The Enigma of Walt Willard

NW Mailing List nw-mailing-list at
Mon Mar 22 22:37:50 EDT 2010

I got the same information from the American Heart Association. I should note that the January 24, 1956 issue of the Williamson Daily News notes that Mr. Willard's heart was sent to a pathologist for study. Since I am unable to get further issues of the Williamson Daily News, I do not know what the pathologist's report was. Of course, Mr. Willard's funeral was held shortly later, and he was buried at Pleasant Hill United Methodist Church in Bane, VA (near Pearisburg) which I have visited.

Lois J. Ponton

611 Historian

ljp611 at

To: nw-mailing-list at
Subject: RE: The Enigma of Walt Willard
Date: Mon, 22 Mar 2010 10:17:08 -0400
From: nw-mailing-list at

What is a coronary thrombosis?
The heart is surrounded by three major coronary arteries that supply it with blood and oxygen.
If a blood clot develops in one of these arteries, the blood supply to that area of the heart muscle will stop. This is known as a heart attack, or in medical terms a coronary thrombosis or myocardial infarction.
A heart attack will cause severe chest pains behind the breast bone, often radiating towards the left arm.
If the blockage (thrombosis) is not dissolved quickly with medication, the area of heart muscle that isn't getting enough oxygen will stop working properly.

Lois, you’re on the right track Coronary thrombosis is in fact commonly called a heart attack. At the time in question many folks could have a Heart attack without warning since the connection between risk factors, such as High blood pressure, weight, smoking, nutrition, and heredity and heart disease were not as well publicized and accepted.

R.D. Williams

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Sent: Sunday, March 21, 2010 7:01 PM
To: NW Mailing List
Subject: RE: The Enigma of Walt Willard

I have found one photo of Walt Willard. If any of you have the December 1957 issue of the Norfolk and Western Magazine, on page765, he is posed with a train crew (which apparently is a mine run out of Wilcoe) in 1942. I was rather surprised him to be still working in freight service this late, perhaps he was working 'anywhere' at that time, as engineer. The man's expression is a mystery but draw what you will from the photo.
Lois J. Ponton
ljp611 at

To: nw-mailing-list at
Subject: RE: The Enigma of Walt Willard
Date: Sat, 20 Mar 2010 03:24:32 +0000
From: nw-mailing-list at

In fact, a copy of the death certificate, which I have obtained, states the cause of death as 'coronary thrombosis' which I take to be a heart attack. I will note also Mr. Willard's death was noted in the February 1956 issue of the Norfolk and Western Magazine; the wreck, of course, was not.
Lois J. Ponton
611 Historian

To: nw-mailing-list at
Subject: Re: The Enigma of Walt Willard
Date: Fri, 19 Mar 2010 09:15:45 -0400
From: nw-mailing-list at

I was 16 and lived in Bluefield when that happened. I remember the wreck cars being called out, my brother T. C. Arnold Jr. was one of the brakeman. It was passed around that Mr. Willard( a very much respected engineer on the Poky Division) was dead at the throttle from a heart attack when rounding the curve. My brother, B. L. Arnold was killed June 6, 1956 at Arista Mountain. The blue light at the call office was lit for both accessions.

Gene Arnold

Gloucester, Va.

----- Original Message -----

From: NW Mailing List

To: nw-mailing-list at

Sent: Thursday, March 18, 2010 9:41 PM

Subject: The Enigma of Walt Willard

While finishing my book on the 611 1956 wreck, 'Midnight on the Pocahontas' I have been looking through details and realize I do not have that much information on the engineer, Walter Willard. What I do know about him:
Born: August 4, 1895
Died:January 23, 1956
Home: Princeton, West Virginia
Married to: Carrie Viola Gordon; no children
Family: Brothers James, John, J.W. "Spot" Willard, Benjamin Willard, at least three sisters. I do not know the parents or where they came from.
Hired on the N&W in 1909.
Character: Don't know. I would like to get some idea on what the man might have been like so he is not cast as a 'villain' (which I personally don't want to do) especially if someone sees this book and decides to make a film of it.
If any of you can supply any information please email me at ljp611 at or reply to this message.
Thank you.
Lois J. Ponton
611 Historian

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