BRISTOL, Va. (WJHL) – Local businessman and philanthropist Don Nicewonder has died.

His family said he passed away Saturday at the age of 84, due to a health-related issue, just hours before his 85th birthday.

Nicewonder made money in the coal industry, eventually moving to Bristol, Virginia where he created “The Virginian” Golf Club and Nicewonder Farm and Vineyards.

Several of Nicewonder’s employees worked for him for decades. They remember him for his generous spirit.

“I know that he’s looking down,” longtime employee Jim Blackmore said. “We hope that we can continue forward in the spirit of which he built this place.”

“Hands down the epitome of a gentleman, wonderful boss, owner and a man that you learn so much from,” longtime employee Chuck James said.

Daughter Kim Nicewonder said Don was a philanthropist, he contributed to countless projects in the region, including education and healthcare-related endeavors. Nicewonder was a father to three and grandfather to seven.

“I do think that he will be extremely missed,” Kim Nicewonder said. “But his spirit will live on through The Virginian and the Nicewonder Inn.”