This month with the National Storytelling Network conference and the pictures of storytellers from the late Mark Wilson, the focus has been upon the entire world of storytelling. Before leaving it I want to include a Michigan storyteller, Florence "Dinghy" Sharp. The site Michigan Storytelling.org is an online version of our state's email newsletter of storytelling put together by Yvonne Healy, editor, with Judy Sima, managing editor, to which I add information on the various state storytelling organizations, a bulletin board for late or expanded news, and an In Memoriam page of brief obituaries of Michigan storytellers.
I never knew Ms. Sharp, but long had heard of her because of her great-great grandfather, Clement Moore and her work with Detroit Story League.
National Storytelling Network. The information was provided by her close Detroit Story League friend, Amy Jackson. Besides contacting NSN, I emailed Amy to verify the date Florence Sharp died. Along the way I received a copy of the eulogy Amy wrote. It has wonderful details, but when I looked at the space used for other storytellers on Michigan Storytelling.org, I realized it was substantially more than I offered for other storytellers there. This gives me an opportunity to share it. (After it, I have the answer Amy also gave me about that intriguing nickname of "Dinghy.")
ODE TO DINGHY - FLORENCE "DINGHY" SHARP by Amy Jackson
A woman of "means," but didn't have a mean bone in her body.
A woman of wealth - who shared her wealth of knowledge with students
and teachers, alike.
A woman with "connections," yet gave of her time and interests to
connect people across cultural,
racial, and ethnic divides - a Goodwill Ambassador!
A woman of riches, who gave freely to enrich the lives of others.
A woman of generosity, who gave monetary gifts to students she never
knew, and to schools she never attended
Dinghy was just incredible!
She was a woman of musical talents that sang in the choir, until she
couldn't; yet, left a song in my heart
and in the hearts of all who knew her - her joy for life and for
literature, in song as well as in verse.
A woman who could tell stories that would make you laugh 'til you
cried; as well as, stories that could
change your tears to laughter in minutes - literally!
While in Michigan, she left a lasting legacy with the Farmington Public
Schools, for starting "The Bucket Brigade" there (a volunteer program
of parents, helping children with learning disabilities). She was an
active member of the Detroit Story League, and the 1st Caucasian member
of the Detroit Association of Black Storytellers.
In Arizona, she was a member of the Green Valley Tellers of Tales; and
somewhere in Jonesborough, Tennessee she has a brick honoring her
contributions to the International Storytelling Festival. Dinghy
gathered stories from everyone and from everywhere. She gave workshops
to inform others of the positive influence of storytelling in the
A favorite, was the workshop she and I did together in Toronto Canada,
for the Delta Kappa Gamma Society International: "Teaching the Culture
of Peace through Storytelling."
She was an Urban-Suburbanite - as comfortable in Motown, as she was at
a Country Western Hoedown, the Opera, the Symphony, or at a church or
With all she had, Dinghy wasn't selfish. She shared her accomplishments
with integrity, and with a warm, caring spirit and presence. She was
She was my friend - and a friend to so, many others. Not perfect, but
it was her imperfections that made her glow and become the humanitarian
She loved holidays of every kind, but Christmas was her favorite. She
had a fabulous collection of Santas - so large, that they were
displayed in a separate room. Her book collections were equally
astounding, and she shared them. She even did the audio for the writing
of the book, The Visit, that related back to her Great-Great
Grandfather, Clement Moore. Dinghy was always busy creating, and doing;
giving to, and inspiring others.
Dinghy died on December 31, 2011, surrounded by her loving husband,
Larry and family - becoming a treasured memory to them, and to all of
us who knew and loved her.
If you're like me, you probably wonder why she was called "Dinghy." I was told: The nick-name "Dinghy" was given to Florence Amelia Spalding Sharp by
her mother, because of her love of sailing in the summer, on upper
Michigan lakes and rivers.
A great reason for a Great Lakes Storyteller.