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AFS Review: In Memoriam

Kathryn Tucker Windham (1918-2011)

Sunday, June 12, 2011   (0 Comments)
Posted by: Jesse A. Fivecoate

Kathryn Tucker Windham of Selma, Alabama passed away on June 12, 2011, shortly after her 93rd birthday. Ms. Kathryn was the most beloved storyteller in her beloved state of Alabama, and one of the most renowned in the nation through her long association with the National Storytelling Festival in Jonesborough, Tennessee. She was first invited to that event in 1974, when the Festival was in its infancy, on the strength of her many popular books of Southern ghost lore. As a teller of supernatural legends and personal memoirs and as a spokesperson for the art, she cast a mighty spell. She researched many aspects of Alabama folklore, including folk beliefs, rituals, foodways, crafts, and outsider art, and she presented her fieldwork in the unassuming, plain-spoken, charming and disarming manner of a genuine porch-bred raconteur, one who was a crusader for human dignity, connectedness, and community. Before her storytelling vocation took flight , she had a long and distinguished career as a pioneering female journalist in Montgomery and Selma. She is credited by many as being a calming and restorative influence in her state after the strife of the civil rights era. Ms. Kathryn was buried in a hand-made pine casket with walnut pegs, built for her by a friend. At her memorial service, the choir played "I’ll Fly Away” on a small orchestra of comb-and-wax-paper kazoos.


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