Hillsboro, W.Va. -- White supremacist William Pierce came to this isolated town nearly 20 years ago for the cheap land and its live-and-let-live attitude. He left behind an international organization based on hate.
Pierce, the author of "The Turner Diaries'' and founder of the right-wing National Alliance, died Tuesday of cancer at his 400-acre compound. He was 68.
Pierce's death is a "tremendous blow to the white supremacy movement,'' said Brian Levin, the director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University at San Bernardino.
"He was one of the brightest stars intellectually in the hate world but also the most reprehensible,'' Levin said. "He encouraged acts of violence and terrorism without facing legal liabilities by actually orchestrating them.''
Pierce's novel, written under the pen name Andrew Macdonald and published in 1978, depicts a violent overthrow of the government by a small band of white supremacists who finance themselves through counterfeiting and bank robbery.
It has long been standard reading among supremacist groups and gained notoriety as a book favored by Oklahoma City bombing suspect Timothy McVeigh.
Set at the end of the 20th century, it describes a fictional truck bombing of FBI headquarters in Washington -- a scene that roughly prefigures the Oklahoma City bombing.
While Pierce does not have an heir, he does have surviving family members, said Bob DeMarais, Pierce's business manager. Pierce also gave specific instructions to his closest associates to ensure the organization's survival.
Kevin Strom will continue to edit the group's magazine and newsletter, and will begin producing Pierce's radio show, "American Dissident Voices.''
"We were lucky he had the foresight to build an organization that will survive and will continue to pursue the goals he set for it,'' said Strom, of Charlottesville, Va.
With Pierce's death, officials with the Southern Poverty Law Center believe the National Alliance will begin to wither, said Mark Potok, editor of the center's intelligence report on hate groups.
"It seems quite likely that the group will be led essentially by committee in the coming months,'' Potok said. "The problem for this group is that it is a group that is built around a single man, William Pierce.''
Pierce recently started using the Internet to promote his recording label, Resistance Records -- "The soundtrack for white revolution.''
In an interview last July, the former physics professor said his "long-term goal is to be the biggest distributor and producer of resistance music in the world.''
Pierce operated his 1,500-member group from an isolated two-building compound on remote land about 140 miles from Charleston that he bought in 1985 because longtime farmers in the area were white. Pierce moved to the compound after spending 18 years working in Washington, D.C.
"He came for cheap land in an out-of-the-way place,'' said Marge Montgomery, 57, a resident of the area. "I'm someone who believes in live-and-let-live and I believe a lot of people around here are like that.''
Beverly Eads, owner of the Country Roads Cafe, said Pierce was a frequent customer. She described him as a smart man who kept to himself.
"When anyone dies, it's a shame, but it's too bad he didn't feel the same way,'' she said.