Professional Storyteller

Share a Story - Change the World

Linda Goodman
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Rocky Rockwell Remembered

I first met Rocky Rockwell in the mid-nineties when he was putting together a storytelling troupe for the Barter Theatre. Not only did he secure the Barter’s blessing for this venture, he also convinced the theatre to provide a $2,000 budget for each show (no small feat!). Clearly, this man possessed great powers of persuasion.

Rocky was one of storytelling’s greatest advocates. He could not keep a good thing to himself. A long time journalist, he knew a good story when he came across one, but he could also enhance a story with his wit and wisdom in ways that traditional journalism does not allow.

I will never forget taking a group of middle school children to see Rocky at the VASA Gathering in Williamsburg in 2000. They were so taken with his hilarious tale of a Yankee’s visit to rural Mississippi that a few of them asked his permission to tell it themselves. Rocky, of course, granted that permission. He was a generous man.

Rocky was warm and kind. He and his beloved wife, Mimi, often opened their home on eighty-four acres of timberland in a Bristol, Virginia “holler” to travelers in the storytelling realm. Their guests could expect good conversation, a comfortable bed, and, of course, as story or two.

Rocky was on the board of the National Storytelling Network (NSN) for a while. He used that time trying to make the organization more “member friendly.” Many of us appreciated his hard work and determination on our behalf.

Rocky shared his tales at the Corn Island Storytelling Festival, the VASA Gatherings, and at Boston’s Sharing the Fire. Locally, he belonged to the Beaver Creak Storytellers and the Jonesborough Storytelling Guild. His trademark sense of humor always left a trail of laughter in its wake. My favorite Rocky story was the first one that I ever heard him tell: a litany of the trials and tribulations of being old. Only Rocky could make the agonies of aging seem like fun.

I cannot think of Rocky without thinking of his wife Mimi, as well. Married for thirty-four years, they were a loving couple who clearly made a great team, not only as storytellers, but as partners in a life venture that brought joy to others as much as to themselves. Forward-thinking and open-minded, they preferred to celebrate the unique qualities of fellow artists, rather than pass judgment. As a result, there was some rich storytelling in Washington County. The entire community benefited from Rocky and Mimi’s generosity.

My heart goes out to Mimi now. Her best friend, her true love is gone from this earth. This is a tragedy that most of us will face one day, but knowing that does not make an individual’s journey down this lonely road any easier. Mimi is strong. She will take her heartbreak and weave it into a story that will change the lives of all who hear it. She knows how to do that.

In recent years, I have lost a number of the storytelling elders who influenced me as I was coming along on my own journey as a storyteller. Jay Engle, Pete Houston, Pawpaw Pinkerton, and Brother Blue have all completed their journeys. And now Rocky Rockwell, who left this world on Tuesday, May 11, 2010, has joined them. I have no doubt that they are raising a ruckus in heaven right now, a giant hoedown to welcome storytelling’s newest arrival.

I miss Rocky. I miss them all.

Comment Wall (19 comments)

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At 4:54pm on December 15, 2009, Reisa Stone said…
Hi Linda,

I look forward to reading your book!
At 10:49am on November 28, 2008, Anthony Burcher said…
Hey, Linda, I hope you had a good turkey day and gave lots of thanks. Anyway, would you kindly check my new blog. Many thanks, Anthony
At 7:19pm on November 2, 2008, Anthony Burcher said…
oops something jumped... the other one first... Anyway at Williamsburg I recall you telling that story, but if I heard you correctly, you grew up in Portsmouth. That's fascinating to me since I grew up across the water in York county. One day we need to share stories of growing up in this area. ANYWAY, the point of all this is good job on the book, CD and telling at the Tell Tale Hearts deal. My best. Anthony B.
At 7:13pm on November 2, 2008, Anthony Burcher said…
Hey Linda, I hope this note finds you well. I finished DAUGHTERS and now it is time for my punishing, rip you to shreds, leave you as a shattered shell of what once was a human being book review: It was good.

these characters really speak to me. My personal favorite, I heard you do at the Camel, "Sara Jane", (my daughter's name is Sarah Jane), but I like it for the story and its lesson. I remember being floored when I heard the line, (paraphrasing), "You don't need to cast your pearls before these swine." I've even tried to work it into conversations whenever possible, but mostly people just look at me strange. Plus, I really like how the last character connected them all. I did not see that coming. These are good character studies and you tell them well.
RIP TO SHREDS, SEND YOU CRYING HOME TO MOMMA CD REVIEW: It was good too. Jessie was good and I enjoyed re-reading it in the book. I personally have a passion for personal stories. I still recall you telling of giving your momma the hair pins on her birthday at the
At 7:31am on May 13, 2008, Leeny Del Seamonds, Master Story Performer™ said…
Hi Linda! What a beautiful picture. I'm delighted to see you here. It will be fun to keep in touch on this terrific web site--I miss you, girl, and hope all is well. Have your ears been burning? I've been spreading your name around.... Any chance you're going to the Conference in Gatlinburg? It would be a blessing to see you again! love and hugs, Leeny
At 3:27pm on May 12, 2008, Pam Holcomb said…
Linda: I didn't know about the Melungeon reunion. I'll have to look into it. I have a friend that is really into this. He is a huge fan of the Kennedy guy that writes so much about these folks. Lots of folks here with names such as Mullins and Collins - definate Melungeon ties.
At 8:22am on May 10, 2008, Pam Holcomb said…
PS I have a great interest in the Melungeons as well. There are lots of decendents here in this area. Did you ever see the outdoor drama that closed many years ago about the Melungeons? I believe it was called "A Walk Toward the Sunset." I saw it about 30 years ago and that's what sparked my interest.
At 8:19am on May 10, 2008, Pam Holcomb said…
Hi Linda:

Welcome to PS and to the Biblical Storytelling group. I too am an Appalachian Mountain girl! I was born and raised in Southeastern KY and I tell many mountain tales. I look foward to getting to know you through this group and website. I'm glad you decided to join us!

At 10:53pm on May 8, 2008, Mimi Rockwell said…
Hi Linda, Seeing your name and pic on here comforts me and makes me feel very much at home. This looks like a very entertaining site and I hope to contribute. I'll watch for your comments. Mimi
At 9:34pm on May 7, 2008, Millie Jackson said…
Welcome to the Biblical Storytellers group. I just joined recently too. Millie



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