Local literati open lairs as fundraiser for AAUW

Published 3:52 pm Wednesday, February 24, 2010

Four local writers have agreed to open their lairs to AAUW members and others in an effort to raise money for the Eileen White Scholarship Fund, a scholarship which furthers the education of women twenty-five and older seeking economic self-sufficiency.

This event will take place on Saturday, March 6, beginning at 10 a.m., with a luncheon at noon at Tryon Presbyterian Church. A literary discourse will occur during lunch with attendees hearing from Jeri Board, Claire Wharton, Laurie Ross, and Savannah Marino.

The four writers whose lairs will be open are Anna Pack Conner, Jeff Byrd, Mike McCue, and Mark Schweizer.

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Anna Pack Conner is a Polk County native. She has a BS from Womans College of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro (now UNC Greensboro) and is a retired teacher from Polk County High School.

In 2000 she published Tryon: An Artist and Writers Sketchbook with sketches by Ronnie Mosseller. It was republished in 2009 as Tryon: An Illustrated History. Conner has written many articles for the Tryon Daily Bulletin called People of Polk County, and she is currently working on a history of the first one hundred years of Polk County schools.

Conner is president of the Polk County Historical Association and a past president of AAUW. She is a favored lecturer at ICC-Polk and throughout Polk County on the history of Polk County.

Jeff Byrd has owned the Tryon Daily Bulletin since 1989; he writes news stories, feature articles, and editorials for the TDB. During his tenure, the Bulletin has increased circulation by 1,500 and won 12 N.C. Press Association Journalism Contest awards. In addition, Byrd has helped move Polk County into the age of technology by getting The Bulletin online; he has also helped to bring the e-Polk non-profit fiber optic network to the county.

Byrd earned his BS in journalism at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and an MLA at UNC at Asheville.

Michael McCue is a businessman who writes about art history, with emphasis on the business aspects of artists careers and how they networked with other cultural figures.

Locally he is best known for his authorship about Tryons important artists colony. He has contributed eight articles about nationally-known early Tryon artists for the new edition of The Encyclopedia of Southern Culture.

He wrote an exhibition publication for Asheville Art Museum about impressionist painter Lawrence Mazzanovich, another for Tryon Fine Arts Center about modernist painter Homer Ellertson, and the book Tryon Artists 1892-1942 for the landmark 2001 exhibition at The Upstairs Gallery. His volume, Paris and Tryon: George C. Aid and His Artistic Circles in France and North Carolina, traces the story of artist George Aid through Europe and America in the early 20th century.

McCue is presently working on two more books. One is about Tryon Toy Makers and Wood Carvers. Another is a photography book about the architecture and landscape of Tryon, featuring photography by a dozen photographers from our area.

A native of Denver, Colorado, McCue is a graduate cum laude of Harvard College in liberal arts and of Harvard Business School in marketing and manufacturing.&bsp; Since 1983 he has been president of Columbus Holdings Corporation which includes Kangaroo Motorcaddies for walking golfers, Condar Company that manufactures products for woodstove and fireplaces, and FunSpecs Company which designs and markets colorful, stylish eyewear.

His community involvements have included Polk County Community Foundation, Polk County Chamber of Commerce, Polk County Public Library, Harvard Club of Western North Carolina, Asheville Area Arts Council, and the executive committee of the University of North Carolina at Asheville Foundation.

Mark Schweizer is a musician, composer, writer, and music professor. A native of Florida, Schweizer received music degrees from Stetson University and the University of Arizona.

After many years of college teaching, Schweizer moved to a full-time position as the director of St. James Music Press where he remains active as a composer, arranger, editor, and librettist. As a composer, his work consists primarily of choral works, but also includes operas and musicals. Besides libretti written for his own compositions, he has also written and published libretti for operas by composers Richard Shephard and Carson Cooman.

Mark Schweizer is the author of the Liturgical Mysteries, seven highly acclaimed comic mysteries set in the fictitious town of St. Germaine, N.C. His writing and wry sense of humor can also be found in the classical music section of Faking It: How to Seem Like a Better Person Without Actually Improving Yourself from the writers of Collegehumor.com and published by the New American Library.

For more information or to purchase tickets, call Betsy Miner at 457-3016.