Sunday, September 02, 2007

Ocrafolk Opry Star....

....and much more. Native islander, Roy Parsons, died peacefully at home yesterday evening. He was eighty-six years old, and a regular performer at the Wednesday night show, with crisp, clean cowboy shirt, guitar strapped over his shoulder, and harmonica clamped onto a holder around his neck. He sang and told stories, always bringing the audience to outbursts of spontaneous applause, and often laughter.

Roy was also a folk artist, builder of collectible model wooden boats. He could often be found working in the yard near Pamlico Gifts, on Lighthouse Road.

I visited Roy and his wife, Elizabeth, on Thursday. Elizabeth told me he had slept well during the night. Early in the morning she was awakened by Roy chatting to himself out loud. He was rhyming, something that would surprise no one who knew Roy well. Then he began singing, and even yodeling. Roy was quite a character. He was also a kind and gentle soul, loved by all. We will miss him and his quirky ways.

This month's newsletter is a story of Captain Joe Burrus, last Ocracoke lighthouse keeper before the beacon was electrified and automated. You can read it here.


  1. Anonymous1:29 PM

    We are so sorry to hear of the Island's loss. We used to go visit Roy and Elizabeth each time we were on the island. We chatted about sharing the same last name, even though we were not related. They were a wonderful couple and we always enjoyed our visit to their store.

    Please extend our sympathies to their friends and family.

    Wayne & Patty Parsons

  2. Anonymous1:45 PM

    Mr. Parsons will be sorely missed by everyone that encountered him.....please extend my family's condolences to his wife and other family members.

    Jane Matte, Tristan and Casey Brew

  3. Such sad news. Our family had the great pleasure of meeting Roy a few years ago at his shop. He sat with a big boom box on his lap, playing CDs and chatting up a storm. Each year I use two of his tracks (Chime Bells and Rocking Chair) as examples of Folk Music and Folk Singing. It doesn't get any more authentic than Roy. Our deepest sympathies to the Parson family. Ocracoke and the folk music world have lost a great one, but no doubt, he's already singing and yodeling and telling tales elsewhere.

  4. Anonymous6:22 PM

    Oh, I've dreaded this day. What a jewel of a man, and just celebrated his birthday.
    The Heavens are smiling, they've gotten their Star back. My deepest sympathies to Elizabeth & his family. I know they are faithful and are glad he's at Home.

    Sheila Downey

  5. A huge loss that will never be forgotten. He'll be missed by so many.

    If Tom in Plano, TX reads this, please stop back by Yahweh's Retreat. Is there some way to get in touch with you?


  6. Anonymous8:12 AM

    We share in grieving the loss of Roy Parsons, truly a precious, Ocracoke treasure. My husband and I often visited Roy's gift shop and chatted about the great hurricane in the 1930's that Roy weathered when most of the islanders evacuated. Always with a twinkle in his eye and a smile from his heart, we will miss him next time we see the Wednesday night show. Please give a hug of encouragement to his wife and family. We will be in prayer for them.

    Tom & Linda Borneman
    Havre de Grace, Maryland