Friday, April 24, 2015

Roy, A Memorable Island Character

Many of our readers will remember Ocracoke Islander, Roy Parsons (1921-2007). Roy was a musician & storyteller, and for a decade he was a regular at the Wednesday evening Ocracoke Opry at Deepwater Theater. He was funny, quirky, and loved to be on stage.

Bob & Kathy Phillips brought me this photo of Roy, probably taken in the early 1950s. If you enlarge the picture you can see his name on the neck of his guitar:  R O Y P A R S O N S.

Photo from NC State Archives

Until the end of his life, Roy enjoyed music, and loved sharing his songs and stories with family, friends, and new acquaintances.

Photo Courtesy Island Free Press

Roy's wife, Elizabeth, continues to operate her small gift shop (Pamlico Gifts) on Lighthouse Road. Be sure to stop by when you are on the island.

And, in case you missed it, The Island Free Press published the eulogy that Gary Mitchell delivered at Roy's funeral in 2007. It is on-line at

Our latest Ocracoke Newsletter is an article by island resident, Crystal Canterbury, about her very first visit to Portsmouth Village, on the last day of 2014. You can read Part I here:


  1. Debbie Leonard7:43 AM

    The eulogy was great....I wish I could have known him.


  2. Saturday, September 08, 2007

    Who Will Fill Their Shoes???
    This week three artists of unsurmountable talent have died: Luciano Pavarotti, Madeline L'Engle, and Roy Parsons. Here are my personal connections:

    When my children were small and we all lived together on the farm, I would have different types of meals...themed, if you will. I often read stories or poetry to match and had music as well. It never failed that when the evening dinner time turned Italian I would play Pavarotti on the CD player. I played it loudly. I would toss in a dashing of red wine into the sauce as I sang along in my diminished Italian voice. I was there with him on the stage in spirit when, in fact, I was in an Indiana farm house with an old stained apron.

    Pavarotti began his fame when he stepped into the limelight as a stand in for Giveppe di Stefano at Covent Gardens in 1963.

    In another part of the world, Madeline L'Engle won her Newberry award for her most famous children's book, A Wrinkle in Time in the year 1963. Didn't we all grow up with that novel? As an adult and a writer, I have also enjoyed her books on writing and met her once at a conference.

    In still another part of the world, a small island boy, Roy Parsons, was singing his heart out on the vaudeville stages of New Jersey. With his harmonica strapped around his neck and his guitar in place he has continued to win the hearts of folk singers and appreciators ever since on Ocracoke Island. His death did not make the New York Times headlines, but for those of us who knew him, we wept just as mightily as if he had.

    Who will take their places? Charm, charisma, humor, and a great love for the arts and mankind were these folks. Farewell.

  3. Sundae3:43 PM

    Photo credit: me. I took both those pictures for Island Free Press. :)