Remembering Ron Mosseller

Published 10:00 pm Thursday, February 2, 2017

Remember When column

Another dear friend has gone to his reward. I was looking forward to meeting Ron Mosseller when I came back here to live in retirement. Our shared interest in airplanes brought us together, but we found more to cement the bonds of friendship as time went on.

The first was a call to his rug “factory” in the former Pacolet Baptist Church building in Lynn. Ron was working on a giant rug commission and it was not going well for some unknown reason. He wanted me to take a look and see whether I might spot the problem.

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I hastened down there and beheld a huge rug backing festooned on several posts, well above the floor. It was marked with the design, not yet executed in loops of colored yarn. I hardly knew what I was seeing, yet alone what I was to look for. But I looked and listened, and soon asked a question.

“Eureka!” Ron shouted, and thanked me profusely for seeing the solution to his problem. I still don’t know what happened, but that just served to enhance our growing high regard for one another.

There were artifacts and examples of Ron’s art all over the premises where I had once attended church services with my grandfather, T.A. Rippy. I sat with him and other elderly men in the “Amen Corner,” reading the bass line from the shape-note hymnal, singing it at least an octave higher, maybe two. Hey, God says to “make a joyful noise,” doesn’t He?

Ron’s creative mind was always hatching something, and he had sketches of his ideas everywhere. There were sleek cars, fanciful airplanes, novel furniture designs, flowers and animals. There was even a restored square piano! Ron also found time to act in Tryon Little Theater plays and write books. Tryon has lost one of its more talented characters, for sure!

I met Ron’s late sister Liz Dobbyn when I asked permission to use some of her portraits in my first book, “A Boy in the Amen Corner.” She gave permission, but was disappointed that they would not be printed in color. I had met her late husband Bill Dobbyn when I was working for Archie Covington . . . I used to put his mother’s groceries in her green Dodge sedan while she shopped in Tryon.

Liz gave me copies of other works, including a painting of the Wright Brothers surrounded by examples of the development of their first powered airplane. In the meantime, I contributed articles to the start-up of a new aviation magazine, “Logbook,” published by new friend Dave Powers. On the 100th anniversary of the first flight in 2003, Dave said he was not going to run anything special unless something “unique” was offered.

I sent him a copy of Liz’s painting, asking “How about this?” He liked it, so I called Liz (who lived in Asheville) and she brought the original painting here. We photographed the painting by natural light, I worked on it in Photoshop, got her approval, and sent a better copy to Dave. He then asked me to write a companion piece, so I wrote “A Gift of Wings” for him. The collaboration of artist, writer, publisher and printer had produced a feature that Powers thinks “turned out quite well . . . simple, with a lot of dignity.”

Crys Armbrust reproduced Liz’s portrait of Mrs. Mazzy for Tryon’s celebration of the life of Eunice Waymon/Nina Simone. I quoted from some of Liz and Ron’s mother Lillian Mills Mosseller’s writing in a recent column, including an illustration by Ron of one Willie Mills sowing apple seeds a generation before Johnny Appleseed did. I miss the luncheons that Ron arranged with other air-minded folks from our area, and will miss his wit and humor that marked his presence in any gathering. I’m sure that others will, too. Au revoir, Ron.