Alejandro C. “Alex” Amaya, 75, of Wheeling, WV, passed away on February 15 at Liza’s Place after a long battle with cancer.
Alejandro, the son of the late Alejandro and Carmen Amaya, was born in the copper mining town of Chuquicamata, Chile on May 30, 1942. In 1967, he married Larue Johnson, a Peace Corps volunteer from Griffin, GA, and immigrated to the United States in 1968. He became a naturalized citizen in 1977. He is survived by his wife and two children, Angelica Amaya of Wheeling, WV and Francisco Amaya of Morgantown, WV. He is also survived by one sister, Nancy Castillo, five brothers, Alfredo, Waldemar, Juan, Jorge, and Luis Amaya; and many nieces and nephews in Chile.
Alejandro was an avid soccer fan and player. In 1975, with the help of other soccer players, he helped to begin a youth soccer league in Wheeling. This league is still in existence, now run by the YMCA. Many adults of today will remember him as their soccer coach.
Alex earned a BS in Mining Engineering from Michigan Technological University where he was inducted into Tau Beta Pi, the Engineering Honor Society. He worked for American Electric Power at Windsor Coal Company in Beech Bottom, WV as a mining engineer for 30 years, retiring in 2001.
After retirement, Alex devoted his time to volunteering locally with Habitat for Humanity, as well as going on mission construction trips to various Latin American countries with West Virginia Baptist churches. He worked tirelessly with the West Virginia American Baptist Men Disaster Relief Team, answering the call for aid in flood-stricken areas all over the state as well as clean-up at ground zero after the 9/11 attack in New York City and after hurricane Katrina. He also spent many years working in ministry with the Laughlin Memorial Chapel in East Wheeling, seeing to the home maintenance needs of the community. He supervised and mentored many college volunteer work groups who came to help in these Chapel work projects, and affectionately became known as “Mr. Alex” and “Mr. Fix-it”.
In 2007 he was a recipient of the Jefferson Award for Public Service in the state of West Virginia and picked to represent the state at the national awards banquet in Washington D.C. The Jefferson Awards are presented annually on the national and local level. On the local level, Jefferson Award recipients “are ordinary people who do extraordinary things without expectation of recognition or reward”.
A memorial service will be held at Agape Baptist Church on the corner of 14th and Jacob Streets on Saturday, February 24 at 11 a.m. with the Rev. Ron Stoner of Charleston, WV officiating. In lieu of flowers, memorial contributions can be made to the Wheeling area Habitat for Humanity, P.O Box 928; Laughlin Memorial Chapel, P.O. Box 6195; or the AB Men WV Disaster Relief Team, c/o Jeff Madden, 7 Pine Crest Lane, Huntington, WV 25705.