8/19/2008

Remembering Storyteller Doc McConnell



The following letter popped into my email just as I was about to post this picture of Doc McConnell that I took last year at the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, TN. These words are a wonderful tribute to a very special man who will be missed and remembered.

Letter from the Board of the National Storyteller Network:

Dear NSN Family,

As many of you know by now, Doc McConnell slipped away Saturday morning from complications after a stroke. Doc was a beloved figure for many of us, one we will each miss in our own way.

To those who knew him well, Doc was a delightful dinner companion who could explain the origins of all the food on the table, a fun person to spend an hour "not running" with, and a sweet-hearted family man whose daughter carries on his legacy of kindness and concern for humanity in her teaching. He was a great encourager of newbie tellers, looking us in the eye and drawling, "Well, I believe it's your turn."

As professional storytellers, we have all benefited from Doc's life, in ways seen and unseen. Doc was a fierce advocate of storytelling, and of the citizen artist's place in society. He was about to be Tennessee's first Storyteller Laureate. He pioneered ways to involve people at grass roots levels in the National Storytelling Festival. He helped the National Storytelling Network keep its eye on the ball no matter what. And he did it all with a twinkle in his eye and a grin tugging at the corners of his mouth. The man who could sell mule eggs and snake oil in his Medicine Show used his powers for good and taught an entire generation how to stand up straight and leave 'em laughing.

The esteem in which we held Doc was clear at the National Storytelling Conference in Gatlinburg. When Doc was introduced as a Saturday night concert teller, he got a standing ovation. When he'd finished a brilliant rendering of one of his signature pieces, the audience rose to its feet again. It's nice to know that Doc's last big performance was book-ended by the love and respect he'd earned from the storytelling community throughout his life.

We lost something special when we lost you, Doc. And heaven's front porch gained a great raconteur. Enjoy the rocking chair.

For anyone wishing to send condolences to Guerry and Hannah, Hannah's husband Donnie and their daughter Maggie, the address is 423 East McKinney Ave, Rogersville, TN 37857.
You may also post your condolences at: (http://www.caringbridge.org/visit/docmcconnell)



Sincerely,
The NSN Board and Staff: Roger Armstrong, ML Barron, Jane Crouse, Teresa Clark, Karin Hensley, Chris Kilgore, Michael D. McCarty, Margaret Meyers, Sherry Norfolk, Laura Packer, Jo Radner, Carol Rice, Kit Rogers, Judy Sima, Joseph Sobol, Wendy Welch

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