Activist Judy Bonds was born in Marfork Hollow in Raleigh County on August 27, 1952. Like generations of her family, Bonds spent most of her life in the Coal River Valley region. Her father, a coal miner, died of black lung disease. Bonds, a single mother, worked in convenience stores, as a waitress, and as a restaurant manager.
By the late 1990s, Bonds, a concerned grandmother, was troubled over the polluted water and dust around her home in Marfork Hollow. In 1998, she joined Coal River Mountain Watch, a group opposed to mountaintop removal mining. A year later, she left Marfork Hollow due to continued problems from the mining.
In 2001, Bonds became outreach director of Coal River Mountain Watch. In opposing mountaintop removal, she organized rallies, filed lawsuits, appeared in documentaries, and railed against coal companies, particularly Massey Energy. In all her speeches, she took great pride in her Appalachian roots and transformed the opposition movement to mountaintop removal into a national issue, earning her the 2003 Goldman Environmental Prize.
Judy Bonds died in Charleston of cancer in 2011. She was 58.