Those Who Have Gone Before Us

This page attempts to recognize Michigan storytellers deserving our remembering.  It will only be complete if we remember those who helped build storytelling in Michigan.  Just as the African story of “The Cowtail Switch” (found in the book of the same name by Harold Courlander) ends, “For it is a saying among them that a man is not really dead until he is forgotten.”  Let the story of these tellers never be forgotten.

To that end I want to start by recalling Nancy DeVries, recipient of the 2000 Oracle Award of the National Storytelling Network, founder of the Muskegon Yarnspinners & influential in Biblical storytelling.  Nancy DeVries went to tell stories beyond this earth, August 10, 1999.

Ardith Laskowski, teacher in the Dearborn school district, long-time member of Detroit Storytelling League, and donor founding the Raconteurs Collection with 364 books to Mount Clemens Public Library.  Ardith Laskowski went to tell stories beyond this earth, June of 2006.
Bob Bauer tried to start storytelling groups, especially ones to preserve memories, throughout southeast Michigan.  Bob had been a public speaker for businesses, but in storytelling found his true wish for what he wanted to do “when he grew up.”  After years in a business suit, he loved to look like a storyteller & to grow in his new vocation.  A picture of him (yes, in business suit) + an article on his contributions, including library Board work, can be found at by going to the June 24, 2009 entry. Bob Bauer went to tell stories beyond this earth on June 22, 2009.
Bob Reay, especially loved to tell Scottish stories & was known for his tale of the Tartan Goat, as well as establishing storytelling at the annual Highland Games in Livonia. He was in the Michigan Arts and Humanities Touring Directory for 2003-2006/.  Bob was an active member of North Oakland County Storytellers. Bob Reay went to tell stories beyond this earth on June 25, 2009.
Jeannette Girard was a founding member of Mount Clemens Raconteurs, as well as a member of Parent Tellers and Detroit Story League.  Jeannette Girard went to tell stories beyond this earth on September 27, 2009.
Don Viano did his storytelling in combination with his magic act, including telling with the Parent Tellers and North Oakland County Storytellers.  He was always a "tough act to follow" and continues the combination beyond this earth as of June 2, 2010.
Florence "Dinghy" Sharp was a long-time member of Detroit Story League, the first Caucasian member of Detroit Association of Black Storytellers, and the founder of Farmington Public Schools' "Bucket Brigade" volunteer program helping children with learning disabilities.  She also was the great-great granddaughter of Clement Moore, with Christmas storytelling as her specialty.  For more about her, including her unusual nickname, go to Storytelling + Research = LoiS.  She went to tell stories beyond this earth right after Christmas on New Year's Eve, 2011.
Nola McDonald was active with many storytelling groups in the metro Detroit area.  Her obituary and photo may be found at Vick funeral home's website.  Her storytelling beyond this earth started on October 16, 2015.
Ralph Morrison was the "Story Peddler" and sometimes the "Rabbi from Toad Hollow", a place where he did much to share stories and the site of the Michigan Storytellers Retreat for several years. He was in the Michigan Arts and Humanities Touring Directory for over 20 years.  Ralph began his sharing stories beyond this world in February of 2017.