Writer Breece D’J Pancake died of a self-inflicted gunshot wound on April 8, 1979. The South Charleston native grew up in Milton, which became the fictionalized setting for many of his short stories.
A graduate of West Virginia Wesleyan and Marshall, Pancake taught at two military schools in Virginia before entering the University of Virginia’s Creative Writing Program, where he was influenced by authors James Alan McPherson, Peter Taylor, and Mary Lee Settle. He began writing human interest stories for a Milton newspaper and working on a series of short stories. His big breakthrough came in 1977, when the Atlantic Monthly published his story “Trilobites.”