Dreama Denver named one of WV’s Wonder Women

Appalachian women have always been strong figures. These women bring that mountain spirit to everything from technology and manufacturing to activism and law, in every part of the state. West Virginia Focus celebrates them—and expresses Great Expectations for their up-and-coming sisters.

Dream a Little Dream

Entertainer, philanthropist, author, mother — if Dreama Denver is one thing, it’s inspiring. Wife of the late Bob Denver, the much-loved actor who played Gilligan on Gilligan’s Island, Denver now runs Little Buddy Radio (93.1 FM) in Princeton and takes care of her autistic son, Colin. She also changes lives. “I don’t know what to call myself. On paper I look really good, and I’ll bet Bob is up in heaven grinning his little butt off,” she says. “But if anyone told me 10 years ago that I would be doing what I’m doing now, I wouldn’t have believed it. I wouldn’t have imagined I’d get involved in so much.” She now runs The Denver Foundation, a nonprofit dedicated to helping individuals and families with special needs that she and Bob started. And in 2012, together with her assistant, Pam Coulbourne, she began West Virginia’s first honor flight program — Always Free Honor Flights — a chapter of the larger nonprofit that transports veterans to Washington, D.C., to visit their memorials. If you ask her what inspired her to get involved in so much, she’ll say it’s obvious — her son and her husband. “It didn’t occur to me that Colin and our life with Colin was setting me on a particular path until years after Bob died. When it all came together, I was filled with so much gratitude — for my son, just the way he is, gratitude for the 30 years I spent with Bob, gratitude for a husband who believed I could do anything. After he died I had to find a way to believe it for myself. That was the work, deciding that to honor Bob’s memory, I had to pull myself up by the bootstraps,” she says. “I say this to everyone who’s suffered a loss. We all have different ways, but whatever you can do to honor the love you had — even if it’s not public — think about how you can be a positive force in someone else’s life.”

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