Bill Levanti, 74, of West Frankfort has been named 2018 Old King Coal and will reign over the Old King Coal Festival May 10 to 13 in downtown West Frankfort.
Levanti will be officially crowned Old King Coal at the Princess Flame Scholarship Pageant Saturday, May 12 at Paschedag Auditorium at Frankfort Community High School.
Levanti is a 30-year veteran of the coal mining industry, having worked at Old Ben No. 24 and No. 26 and later at Freeman Coal No. 4 and No. 6, where he served as a face boss at both Freeman mines. The last seven years at Freeman No. 6, Levanti worked in the safety department. When the southern Illinois market for coal became dim, he became a guide at the Southern Illinois Coal Museum at the Old Ben No. 25 site. In this capacity, he gave many the opportunity to see the real world of underground coal mining.
Since 2000, Levanti has served as school and grounds monitor at Frankfort Community High School. In a nominating letter submitted by Susan Malkovich of West Frankfort, Malkovich stated, "Today Bill plays a valuable role in our high school as a monitor. But maybe more importantly, he shares his experiences of West Frankfort and the great legacy mining has had on our community. He is the link between our present and our past and our students are lucky to have him share the great stories of how West Frankfort became the coal mecca of southern Illinois."
Levanti is a lifelong resident of West Frankfort and served overseas in the United States Army. He is married to Kay Stephen Levanti, who teaches at Central Junior High School; the father of Bryce, an attorney; and father of Kelly McCord, who works for IBEW. He is a proud grandfather of five.
Levanti is an active member of St. John's Catholic Church and a proud Redbird.