Ken and Thelma Gilley To Be Honored at 2018 Hall of Honor Gala

Ken and Thelma Gilley

Ken and Thelma Gilley

Big Stone Gap, VA – The Mountain Empire Community College Foundation will honor the late Mr. Ken Gilley and Mrs. Thelma Sorah Gilley at the annual Hall of Honor Gala on Saturday evening, April 21, 2018.

The gala theme is “Music of the Mountains,” and proceeds from the event will benefit the Gilley-Sorah Hall of Honor Mountain Music School Endowed Scholarship at MECC. Mountain Music School, held annually during the summer, draws many local and out-of-state students to the one-week program that carries on the rich musical heritage of our region.

The Gilleys will be recognized for their support of Mountain Empire Community College and their service to the region. They have been strong proponents of higher education in southwest Virginia, providing financial support to MECC. The Gilleys have created two scholarships, the William Kenneth Gilley Memorial Scholarship for Mountain Music School, and the Gilley-Sorah Endowed Scholarship, which was created along with their son, Michael, and Thelma’s sister, Shirley Walborn. Additionally, Mrs. Gilley was involved in establishing the East Stone Gap Tigers Scholarship at MECC.

The Gilleys were also active in civic organizations and volunteered in the community. Mr. Gilley worked for Norfolk Southern Railway for 41 years, and was a member of the Masonic Lodge and Shriners. Mrs. Gilley worked for the Virginia Division of Mines in Big Stone Gap, the Social Security Office in Norton, and retired from the Department of Labor as supervisor of the Black Lung Office in Norton. She also served as a negotiator for the local AFL-CIO. After their retirement, the Gilleys enjoyed taking classes at MECC and especially enjoyed participating in Mountain Music School.

The evening will begin with a reception in the Slemp Commons of Phillips-Taylor Hall at 6 p.m., followed by a buffet dinner in the Goodloe Center at 6:45 p.m. A short recognition program will follow dinner, and musical entertainment by mountain music artists and bands will follow. Musicians will include Mountain Music School instructors, Chris Rose, Richard Phillips, Steve Souther, Joey O’Quinn, Sarah Kate Morgan, and Larry Mullins.  The evening will also feature some Mountain Music School students.

Event sponsorship opportunities are available. Visit for more information.

Tickets to the April 21 Gala event are $75 each and may be purchased by calling the MECC Foundation office at 276-523-7466 or by visiting the MECC Foundation website at

Tickets may also be purchased by mail by sending a check to MECC Foundation, 3441 Mountain Empire Road, Big Stone Gap, VA, 24219, Please make checks payable to MECC Foundation and indicate in the memo section of your check “Gilley-Sorah Hall of Honor Mountain Music School Scholarship.”

If you have questions, or need additional information about the event, please contact the MECC Foundation Office at 276-523-7466, or e-mail Jeri Bledsoe at