Talent abounds within our ranks...

Here's the next installment of the Member Spotlight.

GIL MEYER

I am Gil Meyer and I am a compulsive storyteller. Friends and family sometimes use a different term to describe this compulsion. Such offenders often end up imprisoned in the next story. My telling takes form in oral presentations as well as the written word. In fact I just published my first novel, The Healer's Dream. A description is on https://gilmeyer.com/. My other book is a business book, Corporate Smokejumper--Tools, Tales & Techniques, which leans heavily on stories (more info at https://www.sparkellc.com/) I am a graduate of WVU. My wife and I live in Hampshire County, WV. Among other activities, I am a docent for the Nature Conservancy's Ice Mountain Preserve, where stories abound. I can be contacted via either of the above websites.

BILL HAIRSTON 

I am W.I. “Bill” Hairston, the pastor of Westminster Presbyterian Church in Charleston, West Virginia. I have been a professional storyteller since 1985.  As a storyteller, many of my stories and music are based on my experiences growing up on the Coal River in rural West Virginia.  My stories embody the rich Appalachian culture that I was exposed to as a child.  

I have performed in concerts, festivals, libraries, corporate meetings, conventions and schools throughout the region and the country.  

Among my many endeavors is my work as the Music Coordinator at the Stonewall Jackson Jubilee for the 35 years until it ended in 2008 and my work as the coordinator of Vandalia’s “West Virginia Liar’s Contest.”  

My featured workshop is entitled “It is indeed all about me”.  It focuses on how to read audiences and how to keep the audience’s attention during a presentation.  

I am an active member of the West Virginia Storytelling Guild, the Kentucky Storytelling Association, the Ohio Storytelling Network.  I am also the West Virginia liaison to the National Storytelling Network.

I can be reached at 304-546-7786 or bhairston@ntelos.net

MISTY MATOR

I am Misty Mator, and when I am not caring for my four children, I am a storyteller. I specialize in stories for young children and families, and perform in libraries, schools, churches, and public events. I usually perform as my character “Starla the Storyteller,” and my programs are strung together with a moral theme.

I also tell stories for older children and adults, and have contributed to “Tellabration” in the past. I am co-chair for the StoryShare storytelling guild, and try to stay connected or involved with various storytelling ventures in the Greater Pittsburgh area. I especially enjoy trickster tales, heroine stories, true narratives, multicultural stories, and, of course, moral tales. You can contact me at starlathestoryteller@yahoo.com.

FRED POWERS

My name is Fred Powers, a retired miner and schoolteacher from Southern West Virginia. I became interested in presenting mining stories in character to interested audiences to preserve our history and honor our Appalachian coal miners, always thinking someone should tell stories of their hidden and mysterious world. My background of being a third-generation miner, growing up in a mining community, then being an underground miner over a twenty-year span has given me ample material to share personal mining stories in a one-man drama type of storytelling. Afterwards, I normally bring a few mining artifacts to elaborate about mining history and discuss the miner’s role in the West Virginia Mine Wars. I have presented at many types of venues including Appalachian festivals, historical societies, libraries, churches, various storytelling programs, public schools and universities in nine states from Pre-K through College. My program at West Virginia University’s First Miner’s Day was audio taped and broadcast nationally on C-Span Radio. My wife Sharon travels with me and presents her “Interactive Children Pioneer Games” at venues as well. I have written two books on mining and others are in the works. Thank you.

Telephone number is 304-920-5436

Email is powersf2005@comcast.net

Website is powerhousepowers.com

RICH KNOBLICH 

Rich Knoblich is author of Talking ‘bout the Relatives, his original tall tale collection inspired by visits to his family homestead in the mountains. His rustic humor brought home eight ribbons (including first place) from the WV State Liars' Contest.  He also has several awards from other festivals and he has served as judge for several liars’ contests. His creative tall tale writings have been published in various national and regional magazines. This storyteller has entertained festival audiences throughout the Mid-Atlantic region.

Currently, Rich does weekly entertainment at Oglebay Resort in Wheeling, WV.  This includes the Festival of Lights and Historical Wheeling narratives for Oglebay’s motor coach visitors. He also presents a lively Behind the Scenes program for Wilson Lodge guests. During the summer he delivers storytelling fun at Oglebay’s Wilson Lodge fire pit with Judi Tarowsky. On weekend afternoons he conducts Historical Walking Tours of Oglebay’s Hilltop area.

Once the Ghost Host for Steel City Bus Tours (Pittsburgh) and Wheeling’s Halloween  Ghost Tours, Knoblich relates a wide assortment of paranormal tales that will cause you to pause for a moment and wonder, “Maybe there is something to this?” Currently, his research delves into Wheeling’s river history and railroad lore of the Wheeling region. His PowerPoint presentations focus on historic Wheeling, Oglebay and Wheeling's ghost tales.

Knoblich, along with Judi Tarowsky, has co-founded storytelling festivals at Pricketts Fort State Park in Fairmont, WV and Grand Vue Park located above Moundsville, WV.

JUNE RIFFLE

I am June Riffle from Fairmont, West Virginia.  I grew up on a small Preston County farm.  My dad was a company coal miner and farmer.  My mother was a devoted but often frustrated homemaker. Seven children with little material possessions, but almost unlimited freedom and space to roam, provided the natural broth to brew stories to entertain ourselves.

Following graduation from college , I became a teacher in Preston County.  Marriage brought the births of four children and a journey across many southern states as I followed my Air Force husband from assignment to assignment.

My professional journey as a storyteller began when I returned to West Virginia after my husband's retirement.  My good friend and former teaching partner, Jo Ann Dadisman, conspired with my sister to present a tandem storytelling program for the local reading council. Our audience was enthusiastic and Jo Ann and I had a great time.  With that inspiration, the tandem storytelling team known as the Mountain Echoes was born. We continued to tell stories and present workshops throughout West Virginia and the tri-state area for over twenty years.

Life challenges brought changes to our storytelling team.  Jo Ann continues in the professional circuit and I spend more time in family and personal pursuits.  My hours are kept busy with grandma duties, traveling, gardening, reading, storytelling and volunteering.

Life is one continuous story with unpredictable adventures. I eagerly look forward to experiencing its many new chapters and sharing my stories with others.

BARB SEELS

I'm Barb Seels. I came to storytelling through clowning. I used to be an amateur clown named "Rhubarb". At one time I was president of the Tri Rivers Clown Alley. Storytelling presentations and workshops were offered at clown conventions. I also attended storytelling conventions sponsored by WVSG at Fairmont State University.

After the alley disbanded, I segued into storytelling organizations. I started with Raggedy Ann stories because that was one of my clown costumes and alter egos. I think the selection of stories is the most important part of developing a program. My grandchildren are my selection judges and timers.

Before I retired, I was on the faculty of the School of Education at the University of Pittsburgh where I chaired Instructional Design and Technology. Storytelling takes me back to my roots. My undergraduate degree was in Drama and English. Recently, I taught a course in storytelling for the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at the University of Pittsburgh.

I live in Pennsylvania near Canonsburg. Since the 1970s I have owned a vacation home on Tygart Lake in WV. Currently I am a member of StoryShare in Monroeville, PA. I have been a member of WVSG for many years.

You can contact me at 412-310-2606 or bseels@pitt.edu.