Big & Rich's Big Kenny is mourning the loss of his father, William M. "Bill" Alphin, who passed away on Wednesday (Feb. 1) at the age of 86.

Born on March 18, 1930 in Whaleyville, Va., Bill Alphin graduated high school and college before serving in the U.S. Army, his obituary reports; following his honorable discharge, Alphin met his wife Mary at Virginia Tech. The couple married in 1955 and welcomed four children throughout their 60 years together. A religious man, Alphin acted as a deacon at both Culpeper, Va.'s Culpeper Baptist Church and the New Salem Baptist Church, and served on the boards of the Rappahannock (County, Va.) Electric Cooperative and the Culpeper Memorial Hospital, as well as on the Culpeper County School Board and Virginia Farm Bureau Board. Alphin also ran the Farm Bureau's Culpeper office for 20 years.

"With the biggest smile you’ve ever seen, and an always-joyful hello, with the kind of bear hug embrace that left no doubt of the love he felt for all around him, you could depend on 'Bill' Alphin to light up a room," Big Kenny writes on Facebook. "For 86 years, he loved the land and tended the animals and gave thanks in simple amazement as another colorful sunset lit the sky above the barns before it dropped behind the Blue Ridge Mountains, giving way to the sounds of the crickets and bullfrogs ... [He was] never a man to complain of the early mornings to feed the cows in the toughest winter storms or the long days and late nights to bring in the hay after prayers brought the spring rains which returned the pastures to their lush green."

Alphin is survived by one sister, his four children and their spouses (including Big Kenny's wife Christiev), as well as nine grandchildren (including Big Kenny's children, Lincoln and Dakota) and one great-grandchild. Visitation is set for Saturday (Feb. 4), with a celebration of life scheduled for Sunday (Feb. 5); a private burial service is also scheduled.

"If you ever got to hear him pray, there was no doubt his heart was pure. His faith was as strong as any, and his kindness and compassion for others ran deep," Big Kenny continues of his father. "By example, he taught us all that hard work wasn’t so hard if it was your passion, and he showed us what it meant to live an exemplary life of service to God, family and community. Referred to as a saint by many who received his kindness, he lived to love us and laugh with us and listen to us when we needed him most."

In lieu of flowers, Alphin's family is asking for donations in his memory to the VMDAEC Education Scholarship Foundation (4201 Dominion Blvd., Glen Allen, VA 23060).

On Big & Rich's Facebook page, Big Kenny's duo partner, John Rich, shared condolences for his friend and his family: "I knew his father well, and he was a truly great and inspiring man," Rich writes. "Prayers for Kenny and his family as they mourn the loss of Mr. Alphin."

According to Rich's note, an upcoming Big & Rich show, scheduled for Friday night (Feb. 3) in Battle Creek, Mich., has been postponed to allow Big Kenny to be with his family as they mourn his father's loss.

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