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"Peace In the Valley"

West Virginia's Singing Doorkeepers

By John Lilly
Photographs by Michael Keller

Singing Doorkeepers
The Singing Doorkeepers harmonize on the floor of the West Virginia House of Delegates chamber. They are, from left: Ray Kinder, Cliff Napier, Bill Pauley, and Parky Parkins.

When voices are raised in the halls of government, it usually means that a heated debate is in progress over some burning political issue. On the floor of the West Virginia State Legislature, however, voices are also raised in sweet gospel harmony as the Singing Doorkeepers spread their message of faith and goodwill. For the past several years, House of Delegates' doorkeepers Ray Kinder, Clifford Napier, and Gerald "Parky" Parkins have joined with West Virginia State Senate doorkeeper Bill Pauley to create one of the most unique and powerful voices in state government — a gospel quartet.

Dressed in dignified suit coats and ties, the four singers work each day when the legislature is in session, quietly fulfilling their many duties as doorkeepers, such as distributing materials to the lawmakers before each session begins or manning the entryways into the legislative chambers while the sessions are in progress.

Baritone singer Cliff Napier has been doing this work for more than 10 years; it keeps him busy during the winter months while things are slow on his Wayne County farm. Tenor singer Bill Pauley, the mayor of Marmet, began doorkeeping on the senate side about seven years ago. Bill soon phoned his old friend and singing partner Ray Kinder, a retiree from the Libby Owens glass plant.

You can read the rest of this article in the Summer 2000 issue of Goldenseal, available in bookstores, libraries or direct from Goldenseal.